In one sense it might seem like a logical allocation of resources. Get older people who appear to be underoccupying their home to downsize so that a bigger family can move in. And they might also be able to use some of the equity released (if they own the home) to pay for care. Bingo - housing and care crises solved at one stroke!
If only life was so simple. But the consequences for individuals and communities could be huge.
Moving home when people are retired is a sure-fire way of losing many of their long-established social networks. And moving into a smaller, one bedroom property means that having family and friends to stay is not very practical. So downsizing could be a route into isolation and loneliness, depression and big costs to the health service. See what the Campaign to End Loneliness has to say here.
Also in many communities older people are the bedrock of local life and local organisations. Moving them out is a recipe for destabilising community life.
Why not look at alternatives? Supporting multi-generational households where three or more generations of a family live under the same roof. And promoting Homeshare where younger people can live with an older person in return for providing support and companionship.
Of course this is all about shifting the focus for paying for our ageing population onto older people - but not those who are wealthier and parents of government ministers who will continue to have choices about where and how they live. 18 January 2012