"Safe" equity release could be significant in retirement planning

29 January 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent
The debates surrounding equity release were discussed last night in the House of Lords by peers, consumer organisations and charities.

As longevity becomes a real issue for pensioners, the group met to debate the future of equity release in retirement plans, and to discuss the role of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) which represents more than 90 per cent of the equity release sector.

According to SHIP, the main themes outlined in the meeting included, the lack of consumer knowledge and understanding surrounding equity release, the problem of defining the 'equity release industry', and attitude of Government policy towards retirement planning.

Speaking at the event, hostess Baroness Hollis said: "It is distressing to see people unable to finance the retirement they need, while they are hanging onto an asset they could use.

"People don't always understand longevity, and that they may have 30 years in retirement. Safe equity release could help them stay in their own homes for longer. We need to see pensions and housing together as a continuum of assets to be used both before and after retirement."

Commenting, Andrea Rozario, director general of SHIP said: "For many years it has been predicted that equity release will grow enormously in response to the gap in retirement funding.

"However, whilst there has been growth, it has been modest compared to the underlying assets and to the financial needs and aspirations of a growing retired population.

"SHIP wishes to engender a policy debate to examine the issues and to establish whether, across a broad range of interested parties, there could be consensus that safe equity release really could be a more significant part of retirement funding and what steps could be taken to achieve this."

This debate initiated a policy consultation process which will result in the publishing of a SHIP White Paper in Summer 2009.

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