Saga Lobbies Hammond Over Downsizing

Saga Lobbies Hammond Over Downsizing

Saga has written to the Chancellor proposing a range of reforms designed to free up the housing market, encourage pension saving, increase resources for care and boost employment, ahead of the Autumn Statement in one month’s time.

In its letter the over 50s firm says that there has been significant pressure for more help for younger people to get on to the housing ladder. A stamp duty break focused specifically on downsizing would help them as well as older people concerned about the cost of moving home.

Analysts at the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) have estimated that 224,000 bedrooms could be liberated with such a reform, putting a potential 111,000 family homes on the market.

Paul Green, Saga’s director of communications, said:  “Our research shows a third of over 60s want to downsize but the cost of moving is a real barrier to people changing homes in retirement. Stamp duty imposes an effective tax on them doing so.

“Research carried out by Cebr for Saga suggests that the net cost of this reform would be modest and could even produce a net gain in stamp duty revenue through additional home sales.

“In order to give further encouragement to those that would consider downsizing, the Chancellor could consider abolishing stamp duty on age-related housing developments.”

Saga has also asked the Chancellor to consider radical simplification of the pension system, removing a “thicket of regulation” created by lifetime and annual limits and introducing simpler incentives for saving.

“Our polling demonstrates that matched contributions up to a set limit would be fairer than the current system, which benefits higher rate taxpayers disproportionately, and would encourage more saving,” said Green.

“The government should take a leaf out of the supermarkets’ success and introduce a BOGOF approach with the government or employer matching every £1 an employee saves.

“This is particularly appealing to those aged 18-49, with 73% telling Saga it would get them to save more.”

Other proposals in Saga’s letter to the Chancellor are:

  • More flexibility for individuals to draw down from pensions to fund care home costs at a time when local government is paring back its support for social care.
  • Employers national insurance breaks for those employing the long-term jobless to help people back into the world of work, including the over 50s who are currently suffering disproportionately high rates of long-term unemployment.
  • A 0.5% cut in employer national insurance to compensate for the apprenticeship levy that provides a perverse incentive to employers to reduce the number of people they employ.

Green said: “Saga is also calling for the abolition of an unfair stealth tax that hits the older self-employed. The contribution of the over 50s to the enterprise economy is remarkable with nearly two million self-employed and many more contemplating this way of working in later life.

“But the government has allowed an unfair system to exist that leaves the self-employed still paying national insurance contributions after the age of 65 while employees stop paying contributions on reaching state retirement age. This difference is clearly at odds with encouraging self-employment as well as being patently unfair and should be eliminated.

“We have carefully analysed these innovative proposals and believe they would be practical and effective. I hope they will form an important part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement consideration.”

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