Monday, 22 December 2014

Free rent offer for downsizers in Thurrock

An Essex Council is considering offering periods of free rent to under-occupying tenants who move to smaller properties.

The move by Thurrock Council is designed to free up properties and alleviate the impact of the coalition’s bedroom tax. This will see social housing tenants of working age with one or two spare rooms docked 14 per cent or 25 per cent of their housing benefit respectively.

Thurrock is looking to offer up to six months free rent for tenants downsizing or cash payments if the tenants claim housing benefit. The offer would also apply to pensioners, who are exempt from the bedroom tax.

Barbara Brownlee, director of housing at Thurrock Council, said 45 households downsized last year, but that she expects the number to double this year.

She said the council had yet to calculate how many of its 10,000 households will be affected by the bedroom tax. She also said the council will offer support, such as staff to help people move and settle in to their new homes.

Ms Brownlee, who stressed the proposal is at an early stage and would be scrutinised by councillors next Wednesday, estimated the measures would cost between £200,000 and £250,000 and be funded through the housing revenue account.

Readers' comments (10)

  • This does not seem good value for money given that the bedroom tax already gives a cash incentive for people to downsize and extending this scheme to people not affected by the tax could restrict the number of properties available to mitigate the changes.

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  • Andy Boddington

    Seriously good idea but how will the benefits people treat cash payments? Will it be snatched back against housing benefit?

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  • I think that's the point of the rent free period - no rent, therefore no HB. The issue doesn't arise.

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  • if they can afford to right off six months rent why not just take the hit at the existing property and leave the tenant settled. agree also this looks like a massive benfit in kind which dwp could well want a piece of

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  • And how would that be saving money? If 10,000 tenants decided to downside and considering that the rent is £100 a week wouldnt that be about £26M Pounds enought to build more houses....Even if a 100 Tenants decided to downsize this will still cost £260k talk about saving money...eeeh

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  • Chris

    It strikes me more of the old style and ineffective 'dented shield' approach of the Labour failure Kinnock - where you just lie down and take whatever the Tory gives you, swallow it, adpot it as your own policy but put a glossy spin on it to make it look like you still have prinicples. Such collaboration was realised for what it is years ago and will not fool as many people this time around. Just remember the Blair grin and you see such 'policy' in its true light.

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  • Mike Batt

    I hope they have checked with the council HB department and the DWP to agree how they would treat this...

    Sounds like a positive move to me.

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  • Scary figure Mercy - if they downgraded the property from a three to a two bed and took a ten pound drop on the rent instead it would take about five years to lose the same amount. sounds like a Shappsism this one except it hasnt been reannounced yet

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  • Colin Mcculloch

    I'd imagine it would be treated as capital by the relevant authorities, so as long as it's less than £6k then it should be alright.

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  • Councils use to offer their tenants a grant to vacate their property,
    whereby these funds would then be used to purchase a home outright,
    thereby releasing a useful empty home to assist those on
    the waiting lists , but now many councils have dropped such schemes
    as they no longer have the funds available.

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