Cash boost to encourage council tenants to downsize?

EAST Devon’s council tenants could be paid up to �3,000 from next year to move to a smaller home.

East Devon District Council is considering upping their cash incentive - to free up ‘under occupied’ homes to counter the desperate shortage of family-sized council houses.

In spite of having 4,200 council homes across the district, just 250 become available each year - with 2,693 names on the housing register.

And most of the homes that do become available are smaller houses and flats.

Currently, tenants are paid up �1,100 to cajole them into downsizing, but the housing shortage has got so acute the council’s Housing Review Board has recommended upping the ante to �1,500 for each tenant.

An additional �500 could also be paid for each room up to a maximum of �3,000.

A council spokesman said: “The aim is to find around 30 tenants a year willing to downsize in this way.

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“It is much better to have homes that are fully or sensibly occupied than to have single people living alone in a large house whilst families wait for a suitable home to become available. The payments are an incentive to encourage people to consider downsizing.

“It’s about getting the best value for money from the housing stock we have - and shortening our waiting lists. Clearly, it would be better if each house or bungalow was fully occupied, rather than under-occupied.”

Annually, it would cost �75,000, to be paid from rents EDDC takes as landlord and not from council tax, but the scheme is dependent on the budget being rubber stamped next year.

Housing manager Dennis Boobier told Exmouth Town Council’s General Purposes Committee last week: “We know there are families desperate for larger properties, but none is available.

“We also know there are people who would downsize if given the chance…in some cases, children may have grown up and left home and they no longer require such a large property.

“Some homes in some small communities or parishes in East Devon only become available once every 50 years.

“It’s often not just a house - it can be hard to give up somewhere your children have grown up in; somewhere you may have lived for 20 or 30 years, close to family and support networks.”