Government fails to promote housing wealth

More than four fifths (84%) of the audience felt the government should do more to promote the option of releasing equity to give people a boost in retirement.

Nigel Waterson, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “When parliamentary business resumes, the new government simply cannot afford to keep putting its eggs in one basket and overlook the potential benefit of more people tapping into their housing wealth.

“We urge the Treasury to take ownership of the issue and focus efforts across government on signposting consumers to consider equity release among their options for funding retirement. Using the Pension Wise service to pose this question to over-55 homeowners would be an excellent start.

“For its part, the industry must continue to explore product innovation based on customer needs. The arrival of new providers in the market will boost these efforts, and we also need to attract more expert advisers to satisfy demand and help people weigh up all the options at their disposal.”

A second audience vote revealed that three quarters (75%) thought the new pension freedoms will have a positive impact on the equity release industry.

But opinion was split over how the pension revolution will be seen in a decade’s time, as just under half (49%) felt it will be seen as a great benefit to consumers but 36% were worried it will be a disaster due to fears over access to advice and the risk of people being scammed.

Waterson added: “The coalition government threw its weight behind pensions, not just by ushering in more freedom and choice for pension savers but by introducing auto-enrolment to get more people actively saving.

“Both changes hold great potential, but pensions are still just part of the equation when it comes to supporting our ageing population – particularly when the average DC pot of £25,000 is so modest.”