Editor: Given the UK’s housing shortage, many will be pleased to hear Michael Gove’s recommitment to building 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s. 

But it is high time the government recognised that building new properties isn’t the only answer, and other steps can be taken to help open up the housing market.

A key element to resolving the housing crisis is to increase the development of retirement housing. Just this month, the International Longevity Centre published the Mayhew Review urging the government to build 50,000 homes for older people each year.

Government support for integrated retirement community (IRC) developers will help create attractive housing options for older people, due to their community nature and onsite wellbeing and care facilities, which provide an incentive to move.

This will get the housing market moving, freeing up homes for families and potentially first-time buyers. It will also relieve pressure on the care system, as data shows IRC residents live better for longer.

It is crucial that political powers encourage people to downsize, creating more efficiency in the market. A Savills study revealed moving to a smaller home that might better fit older homeowners’ needs could unlock an average of £129,000 per household and a total of £469bn across England.

The government should at least consider an easy solution that is staring it in the face. It requires no funding, just an understanding of the benefits of levelling the playing field to allow retirement community developers do what they do best, unfettered by current constraints. In the long term, this will address the wider housing and social care issues our country is facing.

Nick Sanderson, chief executive, Audley