New incentives to cut housing waiting list

Falkirk Council are launching a pilot scheme to encourage people in local authority housing to downsize
Falkirk Council are launching a pilot scheme to encourage people in local authority housing to downsize

A pilot scheme to encourage council tenants to give up too-large homes has been launched.

Currently almost half of those in local authority housing are under-occupying by one bedroom and 14 per cent have two or more extra bedrooms.

Tenants will be offered support

Tenants will be offered support

And, while many homes are under-occupied, the waiting list of families in the Falkirk area desperate for a larger home due to overcrowding is continually growing.

The new initiative will encourage tenants with two or more extra rooms to move by providing support and financial assistance.

An initial budget of £250,000 has been identified for the 12-month pilot scheme.

Elizabeth Hood, neighbour­hood and access to housing manager with Falkirk Council, said the scheme has been introduced in other council areas successfully and could help tackle overcrowding.

She said: “There are currently a large number of tenants living in homes that are too large for them and dealing with the consequences of that, such as higher heating bills.

“We know that moving can be expensive and this new initiative will give financial support to pay for moving costs or decoration of their new home.

“We hope the scheme will be successful and go some way to freeing up larger homes for families dealing with overcrowding and make things easier for those who would like a smaller home.”

The initiative is separate from the ‘bedroom tax’ proposed as part of the Welfare Reform.

New legislation is to come into force in April next year which will see people in receipt of housing benefit penalised for taking up too-big homes.

Tenants of working age who under-occupy by one room will have their benefit reduced by 14 per cent and those with two extra bedrooms will face a 25 per cent reduction in housing benefit.

The council’s under-occupance scheme will start next April.

For more information or to put yourself forward to be considered for the scheme, contact the housing department on (01324) 590780.