Friday 22 March 2019

Property revolution: Government to begin paying older people to downsize

  • Pay older people to downsize and move - report

  • Half of new apartments ‘must suit the elderly’

  • Land agency chief ’s radical rent-for-life plan

  • 'Property tax very low compared to elsewhere’

John Moran, chair of the Land Development Agency, in Limerick, where he developed his new vision of urban life. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media
John Moran, chair of the Land Development Agency, in Limerick, where he developed his new vision of urban life. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media
The Government is to begin paying older people to downsize and move into age-friendly neighbourhoods, a major new report reveals. Stock photo
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Government is to begin paying older people to downsize and move into age-friendly neighbourhoods, a major new report reveals.

The unpublished report says older people living in social housing will be offered financial incentives before the end of the year, ahead of extending the scheme to private homeowners.

The Housing Options for Our Ageing Population Policy Statement says the Government wants to encourage older people to "right-size to appropriately sized units".

It also says 50pc of all new apartments and 30pc of houses should be suitable for older people and those with mobility issues. The report comes as the recently appointed chair of the Land Development Agency (LDA), John Moran, says the new State body should focus on developing rental-only apartments in city centres.

In his first major interview since his appointment, Mr Moran, a former Department of Finance secretary general, says he wants the agency to develop State-owned apartment complexes where people can rent for their entire lives.

The rental model would allow a couple pay enough rent during their working lives to allow them to stay in the apartment until they pass away.

Mr Moran says the Government should encourage people to move away from three-bedroom semi-ds in rural and commuter belt towns by reducing property tax for city centre apartments.

"Little tweaks might actually make a big difference, not because they are big amounts of money but because they send a strong message that the State is supporting one form of living over another," he says.

However, he also believes property tax is "very low" in Ireland when compared to other countries.

He says there should be a debate about the rights of people who are "lucky enough" to own houses in good areas which have seen their value rise due to government investment and those struggling to find accommodation or paying sky-rocketing rents.

"The reason the value has gone up is because the Government has intervened and put in a tramway, put in some services, make the area more desirable, done up the public area and this (property tax)is just a little bit of recovery that the State gets back for improving the quality of the neighbourhood, and, therefore, that is why property taxes in other jurisdictions are at much higher rates than in Ireland because they, in effect, reward good behaviour by local authorities," he says.

Mr Moran wants to examine the country's Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers as it is currently "too easy for people to drag out a process".

He says the Government should look at systems in other countries where the state has "a right of first refusal" to buy property in areas they want to redevelop.

He says the Government must "reverse the magnetic force of Dublin" by developing other cities to avoid sparking "social unrest" which has "caused divisions in society" in other countries.

Meanwhile, the housing report calls for significant capital investment in public and private housing developments for older people.

In the report, Minister for Older People, Jim Daly, said the Government is examining new housing models for the elderly which "fall between home care and full-time nursing home care".

He added: "The objective is to ensure older people stay socially connected within their community and to provide essential care where needed."

Sunday Independent

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