Fife Council offers tenants incentives to downsize - Scottish Housing News

 Fife Council offers tenants incentives to downsize - Scottish Housing News
Fife Council offers tenants incentives to downsize Published 6 April 2021 Councillor Judy Hamilton Fife Council is offering its tenants a £2,700 incentive to downsize their homes. Tenants may also have debts wiped out and their furniture and appliances moved for free if they agree to move.

The council has invested an extra £50,000 to incentivise tenants to move to a smaller home and aims to tell more people about the Transfer Incentive Scheme. Councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of the community and housing services sub-committee, said: “Without doubt we need these larger homes back in our housing stock and this is a way our tenants can and do help us. “There are some challenges round it, for some it’s been their home for many years and it’s become their pride and joy, and it can be very difficult to persuade them to give that up, but if we make the offer attractive to them they will help us.” Changes to the scheme, which began in 2007, come in from April 1 to help meet housing need at a time when service manager Gavin Smith admitted demand is “significantly outstripping supply”. Practical help will see offers of help to complete any forms and give information on housing benefit and universal credit, arranging removals, disconnecting and re-connecting domestic appliances Options for financial assistance include an incentive cash payment of £1,500, ‘disruption allowance’ of £400 and £400 per bedroom that’s being given up.For example, anyone moving from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom property would receive £800, potentially picking up a total of £2,700 for downsizing. Alternatively, where there is a council debt, rent arrears or other tenancy related debt could be written off. Options also include a free rent fortnight to allow time to move, relaxation of exit standards or recharges or a ‘new tenant set up package’ in a new property. The scheme’s budget of £200,000, distributed between the seven housing area teams, has been increased to £250,000 for 2021-22, The Central Fife Times reports.  The Fife Housing Register says there are currently 382 properties which are ‘under occupied’, with 166 under occupied by two or more bedrooms. A report to the committee said that, due to their affordable housing programme, the council are in a “much better position” to offer tenants smaller properties they would want to move into, such as newly built two-bedroom bungalows. Mr Smith said: “It’s not a coincidence that when you’ve got a better product to offer somebody the opportunity to move is enhanced.” A lack of desirable properties could hamper the scheme and he acknowledged, for example, the shortage of bungalows in Dunfermline as a particular issue. Councillor Alice mc garry said: “I hope this has the desired effect but we know it’s not the panacea for all ills. For every one house that’s under-occupied there are many more in Fife that are over-occupied. “We know overcrowding affects the life chances of children and we need to do more to bring more four-and five-bedroom houses on stream. It’s always a struggle to persuade housing services and housing associations to provide bigger houses when we’re planning schemes. I don’t know why that is.” She added: “We need to get a grip on this situation and start concentrating on ending the discrimination against large families by providing large family houses for them.” Mr Smith concluded: “There is a shortage of family houses, it’s a legacy issue and one we’re looking at in terms of of the affordable housing programme, not just through the council but with our housing association partners too.”
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