Cost of housing fractures families

Nia Williams

February 1, 2010

New research by the housing charity shows the huge impact the housing shortage is having on families across Britain, with 1.5 million adults saying they are unable to look after their elderly parents because they can’t afford to live near them.

In turn, 1.5 million grandparents say they are missing out on helping take care of their grandchildren because their own children can’t afford to live close by.

The research also shows that one in ten parents believe their children want to live closer to them but are unable to due to soaring housing costs.

Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: “We all know how valuable it can be to have your family close by, but these figures show the shocking impact that spiralling housing costs are having on families.

“Many families desperately need the support and care of relatives but the current housing crisis is making it impossible for family members to support each other in the way they want to.”

There are currently 398,000 elderly people in residential care. In the UK the average annual fee for a single room in a private residential home is £24,492, and for a nursing home it is £35,100.

Additionally, research from 2008 shows that parents continually face increasing costs for childcare and the yearly cost of a typical nursery place for a child under two is now £8,268 in England.

Ms Boycott added: “It seems a false economy not to invest in affordable housing when the cost of elderly care and child care is so high.

“This is not just about the financial cost for people. Grandparents are missing out on precious time watching their grandchildren grow up, and many elderly people may not be getting the support they need.”

The survey also revealed that 22% of 18-34 year olds stated that they were still living at home, with 45% of these people blaming high housing costs. Over half of this group reported that developing and maintaining relationships was harder because of living at home with their parents.

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