Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Council offers tenants £25,000 to downsize

A London local authority is offering tenants up to £25,000 to move to smaller properties to reduce overcrowding and the impact of the government’s ‘bedroom tax’.

Camden is prepared to pay £25,000 to tenants who move from a six bedroom home, £20,000 for those who downsize from a five bedroom home, and £15,000 for those who give up a four bedroom home.

The offer is designed to free-up large, under-occupied council properties to make way for families that are currently living in overcrowded conditions. Camden has more than 5,000 families in overcrowded conditions, and estimates around 60 per cent of its 1,380 properties with four or more bedrooms are under-occupied.

The move is also intended to limit the impact the government’s bedroom tax will have on tenants and the council.

The bedroom tax will cut housing benefit for working age tenants who receive the payments and are under-occupying from April next year. In Camden the cut will amount to a £21 a week reduction in benefit for those with one spare room, and £36 a week cut for those with two spare rooms in a four bedroom property.

The council estimates it will lose £2.5 million a year of income as a result of the cut if it cannot find alternative accommodation for the families that are affected.

Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, said: ‘In the last year only one tenant chose to downsize their five-bed home, but we hope that our pilot scheme offering realistic cash and other incentives will now encourage more tenants to choose to do so.’

Other councils have offered similar incentive schemes, but Camden’s is one of the most generous announced so far. Earlier this year Richmond Council set aside £150,000 to encourage downsizing, offering tenants £2,500 for every bedroom they give up, to a maximum of £7,500.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Previously , these local councils use to offer their tenants
    a grant to vacate their council home , and to then use these funds
    to buy their own home, thereby releasing a useful empty home, and
    giving the tenant a chance to become home owners. But due to
    cutbacks , a lot of these councils have stopped such schemes.
    So , is this council offering tenants a chance to become home owners,
    or is it to downsize to another council home.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    It would be helpful if they published a list of their available smaller properties - but then I suppose they would have to explain why they have so many empty homes - is it that they have been stockpiling them in anticipation of a rush to downsize?

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  • There is nothing new about social landlords offering financial incentives to persuade under-occupiers to move to smaller properties, although Camden are offering more than most.

    In April 2001 DETR published 'Managing underoccupation: A guide to good practice in social housing'
    It is still available at:
    http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/138895.pdf

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  • If councils need to increase the availability of housing stock this is a fair way to do it. However, the accomodation that is available should not be substandard. There should also be no penalty for those tenants who choose not to downsize.

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  • That's a nice little earner for some people! Nothing new about these schemes at all, but they are paying a tidy sum for people moving.

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  • Nice, if you've got a 5 or 6 bed house to give up! In my local borough 'Royal Borough of Greenwich' we will get NOTHING for giving up our 2 bed homes, - not even removal expenses!

    You must be giving up at least 2 bedrooms, or be over 60, to get some help to move - and a few hundred pounds for downsizing!

    So, not only are we having to give up our lovely homes we've spent so much time and money on over the last 30 years, but have got to somehow find removal costs for the privilege!!!

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  • A friend of mine found a swap and enquired for him about the discount to buy, only to be told it is £16.000 a drop in the ocean in London, he as decided to stay put and stick with the dole.

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  • I have been in my 2 bed house for almost 30 yrs. In that time have put in 2 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. Im expected now to give up my home as my girls have left home. To go into a one bed flat, like my daughters, that is mould ridden? Really? If the council and government want tenants to downsize then build new, descent one bed houses wiv small garden so, tenants wud be pleased to take. But, instead we are forced to make a choice of heat our homes or pay extra rent (spare room tax) there is no fairness in this tax, as there is not enough housing stock for tenants to down size! It seems to me and this is just another way of hitting our poor and vulnerable! Well, done thurrock council and our shamefull government!!!

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