Cash incentive to move has little appeal for council tenants

Falkirk Council is offering financial support to tenants willing to move house to help accomodate larger families but so far interest in the scheme has been very low.
Falkirk Council is offering financial support to tenants willing to move house to help accomodate larger families but so far interest in the scheme has been very low.
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The ‘cash carrot’ dangled in front of tenants to encourage them to move into a smaller house has been met with a low key response - and the housing department’s rules could be to blame.

The pilot scheme which will run for a year is aimed at freeing up larger properties to allow them to be offered to families who desperately need the extra room.

Falkirk Council set aside an initial budget of £250,000 which will be used to cover the expenses of tenants who agree to make the switch.

But since the launch of the incentive on April 1 to pay householders for giving up homes that are too big for them and downsize, Falkirk Council’s housing staff have processed just one application.

Before it was agreed by councillors last September they were told it had been used successfully in other local authority areas and a positive way to tackle under occupancy in its housing stock.

Figures revealed almost half of the people in council houses have at least one empty bedroom and 14 per cent have two or more. At the same time the demand from larger familes living in chronic overcrowded conditions continues to grow.

Despite the offer of financial support to flit – which potentially could be worth thousands of pounds – interest has been embarrassingly low.

Now it has been claimed part of the reason could be the rules and red tape housing officers say they have to follow.

Pensioner Janet Middleton complained she has been trying to move out of her three-bedroomed house in Westquarter for the last nine years – and is still waiting.

The grandmother from Alder Grove will happily give up the family home she has lived in since 1965 for a smaller house if the council will relocate her to the Tamfourhill or Windsor Road area where she will be closer to her married son but, so far, her offer to downsize has been refused.

She said: “I don’t need three bedrooms and been telling the council that for years. What I do want is a house closer to my son and daughter in law because I’m 71 now and would like them nearby in case anything happens to me.

“So far, all I’ve been offered is a flat. The council tells me they don’t like putting members of the same family all together but I know from experience that is nonsense. Because of the rules and red tape it’s very frustrating. They will have to be changed before there will be any help for me and others in a similar position.”