Living arrangements and housing among older people in London

Tony Warnes, Inge Strüder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As throughout the United Kingdom, housing space and amenity standards in London have improved vastly during the last sixty years. Population and living densities have increased; much of the worst nineteenth-century housing has been replaced; and kitchen, bathing, heating, and sanitation arrangements have been transformed. If during the 1950s and 1960s there was an association between the worst housing and the oldest households, this is no longer the case. By the early twenty-first century, the worst housing conditions are generally found in subdivided rental housing. The supply of low-cost rental housing has contracted, and it is predominantly occupied by recent migrants to the city, including students and young adult trainees. There are nonetheless remaining clusters of poor-quality housing, and they are not all in the inner city. Almost all is rental housing, and it is found in both the private and public sectors. The major housing problem facing London's older people is its high cost. It is true that most older people on low incomes who are social housing tenants (and not recent migrants) have the majority of their rental costs paid by Housing Benefit. Their choice of housing types and locations is then severely restricted. Not even those who own their housing outright (without a mortgage) are immune, for council tax (a local property tax) and maintenance charges are high. The combination of high costs, the ability to purchase equivalent housing at much lower prices outside the city, and environmental factors prompts a high proportion of London's people to move away when they retire or approach old age. No other region of the country, not even the industrial cities of the Midlands and North, drives so many older households away. It must therefore be concluded that the economic dynamism and governmental, financial, commercial, and creative media functions of London that make it a world city also create an environment that is on balance unsupportive and uncongenial for a large proportion of its older population.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGrowing Older in World Cities
Subtitle of host publicationNew York, London, Paris, and Tokyo
EditorsVictor G. Rodwin, Michael K. Gusmano
PublisherVanderbilt University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)0826514898, 9780826514899
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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