In a speech to charity Counsel and Care in London yesterday, Blunkett says that the responsibility of providing for the older generation should fall to the individual and the family, rather than the government.
He says: “In our endeavour to protect people’s inheritance have we not made enough of, and are we not clear enough about, the release of equity from the enormous home ownership that exists in Britain and the divide of those with and without assets which this trend has accelerated?”
“The older generation is substantially healthier and better equipped to manage its own care with the help of family and friends rather than a reliance on the state.”
He adds: “There is a total of £700bn tied up in home ownership by those in retirement. Through equity release programmes, a proportion of assets could alleviate the need to sell up or to enter residential care by offering the cash needed to sustain the existing lifestyle.”
Jayne Almond, chief executive of equity release provider Stonehaven, says:
“David Blunkett is right to address the issue of the considerable pool of the nation’s wealth tied up in home ownership.
“The equity release market has done a great job to transform itself into a customer-focussed sector. It allows the elderly to maintain a certain standard of living whilst remaining in their own homes and communities so that they can enjoy their retirement.”
She adds: “We look forward to further government-led endorsement, which we see as an inevitable outcome of the current state of retirement provision.”