Peterborough Pensioner Homeowners are now Worth £3,157,572,800

How wealth is distributed will always be a contentious issue, especially as the Baby Boomers (those aged between their late 50’s and late 70’s) wealth has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, compared to the wealth of the younger generation.

With most UK property in the hands of the older generation, with its total value about to smash through the £8 trillion barrier (up from £3 trillion at the start of the Millennium), is it right that so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of the older generations?

As national house prices have continued to grow unabated (for example in the last eight years by 49.9%, whilst real take home pay has only increased by 11.8%), this has meant younger people are finding it even harder to get onto the property ladder and those already on it to move up it.

Looking at the older end of the age range for home ownership …

of the 65,427 homes in Peterborough, 14,305 households are 65 years or older, and 69.6% of those households (9,950) are owned (mostly without a mortgage).

A full split as follows …

  • Owned 69.6%
  • Council House 23.9%
  • Privately Rented 4.2%
  • Living Rent Free 1.9%
  • Shared Ownership 0.5%

I talk with many Peterborough pensioners who want to move yet are unable to. There appears to be a shortage of suitable properties in Peterborough for members of the older generation to downsize into. Due to their high demand and low supply, Peterborough bungalows and suitable ground floor apartments achieve on average a 15% to 25% premium per square foot over two/three storey properties. Yet would it surprise you only 1% of new builds in the UK are single storey bungalows (compared to 7% 25 years ago)?

Peterborough pensioner homeowners are now worth 3.15bn.

YouGov did a survey a couple of years ago and they found that just over one third of homeowning pensioners in the UK were looking to downsize into a smaller property. As I have stated before, as a nation, we need to rethink how we can encourage older homeowners to sell their larger homes to release them to the younger families that desperately need them.

The Government over the last 11 years have appeared to target all their attention on first-time buyers with a strategy such as the Help to Buy Scheme. However, this doesn’t address the long-established under-supply of appropriate retirement housing vital to the needs of Peterborough’s quickly ageing population. Unfortunately, Peterborough’s housing stock is sadly ill-equipped for this demographic shift to the ageing homeowners.

Also, to add insult to injury, those more mature Peterborough pensioners in their 80’s and 90’s who do live in the restricted number of Peterborough bungalows and suitable ground floor apartments are finding it difficult to live on their own, as they are unable to leave their bungalow/apartment because of a shortage of sheltered housing and ‘inexpensive’ care home places.

This in turn means the younger 60 to 70 year old Peterborough retirees (in their bigger two/three storey family houses) can’t buy those Peterborough bungalows (occupied by the older retirees), which means those Peterborough families in their 30’s and 40’s can’t buy those larger family houses (occupied by the younger 60 to 70 year old retirees) they need for their growing families … it’s like everyone is waiting for everyone because of the logjam at the top of the property ladder.

So, what is the solution? Quite simple – build more homes!

In the last 30 years, the UK population has grown by around 12 million people, yet the number of properties has only grown by around 4.2 million.

With obstructive planning regulations, immigration, people living longer and increased divorce rates (meaning one family becomes two) we have needed 275,000 properties to be built a year since the Millennium to just stand still and meet demand. Twenty years ago, the UK was building on average 185,000 households a year, that figure dropped in the five years after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 to 140,000 households a year. Thankfully that has increased steadily over the last five years and last year we created 245,000 households in the UK, however we still have all those years since the Millennium to make up for.

The answer is to build on more land for starter homes, bungalows and sheltered accommodation because land prices are holding back the property market, as the larger national building firms are more inclined to focus on traditional two and three storey houses and apartments than bungalows (because they make more money from them). You might say there is no land to build the property on, yet …

only 1.2% of the UK is built on with residential properties.

So how could Peterborough people make money on this news? Shrewd Peterborough property investors should consider purchasing bungalows, especially ones that need some titivating (possibly after somebody has passed away). Bungalows purchased at the right price and location are a great gamble for flipping. They should also be considered for renting out as demand will only outstrip supply. This would be a start to the solution of rebalancing the Peterborough property market so everyone is happier with their lot.

If you would like a chat about the Peterborough property market – don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Peterborough OAP Homeowners to Face £13,522 Coronavirus Tax Bill?

The Government is on track to borrow £400bn because of Coronavirus and that needs to be paid back at some stage. Last year alone, before Coronavirus, the Government brought in £824 billion in taxes whilst they spent £887 billion, meaning they had to borrow £63 billion. In fact, the last time taxes were higher than spending in the UK was 1998, meaning since then the country has been living beyond its means.

Interestingly, whilst these are certainly eye watering numbers (£400bn is a lot of money in anyone’s book) most people aren’t too concerned in the short term. Because interest rates are so low, the Government are able to borrow this money at 0.39 percent per annum over a 10-year period on the Gilt Markets. There are even 3-year Government gilts at a negative interest rate. This is because the UK has been considered (and still is considered to be) a monetary sanctuary/safe haven for the last 20 years because of the country’s robust credit worthiness. Cheap money – yet it still needs paying back in the years to come and that can only be funded by taxpayers.

Ultimately, the Government will have to try to balance the books and that means increasing taxation. I know many will say there is waste in the NHS and MoD procurement, but that has already been squeezed quite hard during the Credit Crunch crisis and years of austerity. Some have suggested stopping the triple lock on pensions, which costs the Exchequer £6bn a year more than if pensions had risen at pre triple lock rates, so that isn’t going to make much of a dent in the debt. Some have suggested we could enter into a second wave of austerity, like we saw from 2010, yet neither the voters nor the wage frozen public sector would accept that. That leaves tax rises as the only option for leaders who claim to take a responsible long-term view of the economy.

The Government could raise tax on spending with VAT increases, but they did that in 2011 when it rose to 20% (from 17.5%). Also, increases in VAT affect the poor more than the rich. Then they could raise it from earnings (Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance) yet it’s been proved raising these ‘earning taxes’ ends up being counter-productive to the economy, resulting in tax receipts going down (even though the tax rate went up). Both are unsatisfactory, not least because big rises end up being unfair to someone.

So, some ‘think tank’ groups have suggested that we look to unearned wealth and the equity people, especially the older generation are sitting on in their homes, to pay for Coronavirus. Whilst I am in no way promoting and advocating that idea, I thought it was a fascinating suggestion and wanted to know what that would mean for Peterborough homeowners if such a fanciful idea took hold?

OAPs in Britain sit on £1.425 trillion in housing equity in their own homes

The average length of time an OAP homeowner has been in their property, according to official figures, is 24.7 years, meaning on average, 75.8% of that equity is profit. So, if say a capital gains tax of 10% was placed on any profit, it would raise £107.84bn over the next 20 to 25 years. So, what would that mean to Peterborough OAP homeowners?

Peterborough OAP homeowners own £2.742bn worth of property

Taking into account the average length of time those homeowners have been in their Peterborough home, that is an ‘unearned’ profit of £2.075bn or £1.098bn after inflation. Some ‘think tanks’ have said that should be taxed as some form of capital gains tax.

To give you an idea, if every OAP homeowner in Peterborough had to pay a 10% capital gains tax when they (or their descendants) sold their Peterborough home, that would cost them £13,522 each (or a total of £207.49m).

So, is this the answer to pay for Coronavirus? There needs to be tax reforms to protect the public finances yet is it fair to tax previous capital gains? Many people say no. Let’s not forget people buy their homes out of taxed income, then pay Stamp Duty, VAT on any improvements and inheritance tax if the property value is more than £675,000, so is it fair the Government want another slice of pie?

The older generation who bought these homes saw mortgage rates of 19% in the late 1970’s and 16%+ in the early 1990’s, meaning for every pound borrowed, they ended paying back £3 to £4 when you added up the interest. Also, let’s not forget all the money spent on keeping up the maintenance – money that has already been taxed. The upshot will be this would stop OAP’s selling their homes because it would discourage older people from trading down to a smaller home in retirement, making it even harder for younger families to find a big enough home to live in. Also, many people use the equity in their home to pay for retirement care, so if some of that is going to keep the debts down, that means the Government will have a larger social care bill in future years.

One school of thought could be taxing future tax-free gains for ALL homeowners, although given the Tory’s dependence on the more mature middle class (homeowning) voters, this might be a step too far for the Conservatives, so some have said this will be kicked down the road for Labour to sort. Sir Keir Starmer, who appears to be quite a straight-talking and even monetarily responsible Labour leader, is certainly a lot more voter friendly to the British electorate than Corbyn.

At the 2024 General Election, he could introduce what appeared to be a smart agenda of tax increases on unearned property capital gains and as long as it was presented in a clearly defined way, maybe turning the tables on the famous Tory General Election poster from 2010, when the Tory’s mocked Gordon Brown for doubling the national debt, implying it was Labour’s fault for the increase in national debt when in fact it was the Credit Crunch that caused it.   

Starmer could soberly state Labour were the only party that could be trusted to make hard decisions to avoid burdening future generations with the £400bn ‘Tory’ coronavirus debt

One way or another, this £400bn (or £14,440.43 per household) is going to need to be paid back eventually; that means a rise in taxes. Nobody likes paying more tax – yet the truth of the matter is there is a lot of wealth tied up in property, especially with the older generation and so I suppose its introduction is inevitable in the future.

Please tell me your thoughts on the matter…