Monday, 21 April 2014

Tenants offered £2,000 to downsize by ALMO

An arms-length management organisation is offering tenants £2,000 to move to smaller homes in a bid to free up family homes.

South Lakes Housing – which is due to become a housing association in March this year – is offering tenants the cash as it searches for ways of housing families.

The ALMO, which manages 3,400 homes, said the downsizing incentive scheme was voluntary but the money could help meet the cost of moving.

Peter Thornton, member for housing and development, at South Lakeland Council, said: ‘This is a fantastic scheme for those tenants who are struggling to manage their house either because it is too large or too costly to look after. 

‘Tenants who make a choice to downsize will pay less rent, council tax, heating and will find a smaller property easier to manage. In turn it will release much needed homes for families living in unsuitable properties.’

According to the latest figures, just under 10 per cent of the 52,006 dwellings in South Lakeland District are affordable.

Readers' comments (17)

  • F451

    Do South Lakes state how many smaller homes they have available for their tenants to downsize into?

    Do South Lakes explain why they have kept such smaller homes empty at the same time as letting underoccupied homes?

    Can IH clarify in the 5,200 affordable homes are affordable of Affordable (the latter noun being the new invention of the Housing Minister to mask his near market rent blanket housing policy)?

    Finally, can South Lakes explain how this scheme will operate alongside the soon to be lauched national mobility scheme where they empty homes should be available to anyone in the country who qualifies via the means and deserving tests?

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  • Outside Housing

    £2000 for:
    Major upheival and life change, potential loss of local support network, loss of attachment to precious family memories, not a great deal of saving in utilities, possibly no council tax saving (if on benefit), starting over often at an advanced age when energy, motivation and ability doesn't necessarily allow or make that easy...I could go on as I'm sure you could.
    £2000 = Not enough by a long way.
    Stop dreaming South Lakes Housing and if you plan to be a respected and successful RSL when you become one, put a lot more thought into your initiatives. It's just the money, of which your offer is ridiculous, it's the after care and so much more. What are you offering in that area?

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  • Blimey, talk about shooting the messenger!! At least South Lakes are proposing something, yes in an ideal world people would be offered a sufficient amount that they would willingly accept, but that ideal world is probably in a parallel galaxy far,far away.

    What RSL's should do, or what we would like them to do compared to what they can afford are two completely separate things. However don't lose site that unlive the majority of the sector they're doing something.

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  • Outside Housing

    Harry: I don't want to believe the ideal world is unattainable.

    If this kind of initiative isn't scrutinised and weighed up, people might start to think it is very reasonable for all (including the elderly who is a lot of cases, their home is their life) and then before you know it it is forced upon people.

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  • F451

    In defence of Southlakes OH, at least they are not just waiting for the Government Goon Squad to force people out of their homes as and when Shapps gets his policies in place.

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  • Outside Housing

    F451: My anger isn't really at South Lakes it's, as I know you will agree, about the increasingly common practice of Government, Councils and RSLs not understanding the complexity of the relationship between people, their homes, their families and their lives. It's not just about bedroom need, money and availability; it's about caring and quailty of life.

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  • Matt Murdock

    This isn't meant as a crticism of South Lakes, who, as has been said, are at least trying to address the problem but, this isn't a new initiative. It's been operated by various local authorities off and on for years.

    In some they also offer to meet the connection/dis-connection costs, removals and post redirection as well

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  • F451

    Recognised OH - it is also the case that the RSLs and Councils want to be seen as being good little boys and girls in case Santa Shapps has any pressies to give out, such as the odd grant or even a peerage.

    Quality of life regardless of income status - now there is a housing objective that can be recognised from the days when governments thought that all the people deserved homes. This return to the deserving and undeserving poor idea has been so successfuly achieved with some sickening devices - and most never even blinked.

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  • Joe Halewood

    This is interesting for a cople of reasons not yet mentioned above.

    Firstly, the underoccupancy cut which I believe the government will press on with despite defeat in the House of Lords is in the region of £16pw or £800 or so per year. This is the minimum amount of rent the existing 'under-occupying' tenant will have to find to make up their HB payments, and more if the under-occupation is by 2 bedrooms.

    Hence the offer of £2k to downsize needs to be seen in that context

    Secondly, if the social tenant only has the option of private rented - and the above doesnt make that clear - then of course the downsizing tenant will have even more to pay each week to make up the rent and probably much more than £40pw or £2k per year and move from social to private which is far less secure.

    That said, the comments of the councillor state exactly the same reasons as Shapps did in his Daily Telegraph article yesterday which when th pilot was looked at made the person worse off financially after moving from a 4/5 bed house to a 1 bed (and with £1300 pcm rent paid too)

    So anyone should proceed with extreme caution on such moves.

    Even if these highly complex downsizing moves do stack up financially they will only ever be a tiny fraction of what is necessary in terms of increasing larger social homes - the ones in most demand and of course the ones most likely to have been sold off in original RTB.

    Also its not like me to agree with the Daily Mail - but yesterday DM were scathing over these plans and saying such schemes are open to abuse for example when does persuading an older person to downsize become self-interest and coercion. Putting in place independent persons to advise the current tenants would need to happen and who would fund that?

    These schemes are very complex and as the FreeSpace pilot in LB Redbridge has shown very time consuming to put together (all of which costs of course) and the more you scratch under the surface you reveal more and more complexities.

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  • Why is it so controversial for tenants in social housing to have to adapt their property to suit their life-style. People who have mortgages, live in the private rented sector do it all the time. Putting aside the issue of supply (not that l don't think it should be ignored), what is really wrong with 1 person occupying a property moving into a smaller property should they so wish. Again putting the aside mandatory moves, this article is about a housing provider enabling the move. I can't see why this should be dammed, l wish my landlord put his hand in his pocket when l had to move because his property was infested with damp!

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