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National Housing Survey Report - 2020

It is important that older people in Scotland are able to live in a home that meets their needs and that there is sufficient alternative housing available to them when the need arises or their circumstances change.

Read the full report of our National Housing Survey

In this report we present the key findings from our National Housing Survey that ran from November 2019 - January 2020, we received responses from 1,231 people aged 55 and over from every local authority in Scotland.

Age Scotland and ScotInform surveyed 1,231 people aged 55 and over across Scotland on their views of the suitability of their housing, their energy costs and the affordability of their homes.

Fewer than half of people over 55 think their home will be suitable for them in later life, according to the results of our research.

In addition to this, one in eight people say their current home is unsuitable (12 per cent). This rises to one in five older people with disabilities (20 per cent) who say their home is not suitable for their needs, and 15 per cent of those with long term health conditions.

This survey was an attempt to better understand whether older people's homes will help them to live well into later life and if there is sufficient choice of housing for people, should they wish to 'right-size' or find a more energy efficient, easier to manage home or one that is in a location that suits them better.

The survey clearly demonstrated that there is an overwhelming preference for living on one floor, with many people looking to move to a bungalow (52 per cent) or a flat (26 per cent). Other top priorities include being close to local shops and services (41 per cent), a smaller or more manageable home (29 per cent) and a property that could be adapted to changing needs over time (23 per cent).

We found that the main reasons that homes were deemed not suitable by our respondents included accessibility, size of home, issues with cold, damp or heating, need for repair or their location.

Despite this, most respondents did not intend to move home. Almost half (46 per cent) said they would prefer to adapt an unsuitable home rather than move (36 per cent). Around one in four (23 per cent) said they were reluctant to leave their home, while one in nine (11 per cent) said there was nowhere suitable to move to.

There is a clear need for more housing that suits older people and people with accessibility needs. Building houses to greater accessibility standards would be an improvement for everyone and bring a lot more choice to the housing market.

The research also highlighted concerns with loneliness as people grow older, with 58 per cent of those who live alone saying they always or sometimes felt lonely. Eleven per cent of all respondents only have regular contact with someone outside their home once a week or less.

Suitability of current home in future

‘It’s quite remote. Bus services are being slashed. Heating is expensive, and maintenance of the property will be an issue in future. Will be very reliant on having a car in retirement.’

Energy efficiency and energy costs

Energy costs are a big concern for most older people, with the vast majority of our survery respondents (90 per cent) concerned about the rising cost of energy. Six in 10 (61 per cent) of all respondents have taken steps to save energy, such as turning their heating down. This is particularly concerning as there is serious risk to health if older people are not heating their homes sufficiently.

Those less satisfied with current heating levels tended to be respondents with a disability, long-standing health problem and a gross annual income of less than £10,000.

The report indicates the need for greater investment in and awareness campaigns around Scottish Government energy efficiency programmes, such as Home Energy Scotland, which could make a tangible difference to people's quality of life.

News: More suitable homes for older people needed, new national study reveals

Read our news release about this research which includes a comment from the Scottish Government's Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP.

Download a copy of the National Housing Survey Report

Get in touch

Contact Age Scotland's Policy and Communications team on 0333 323 2400 or email

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