Council home downsizing scheme is declared a success

Council home downsizing success

Councillors have declared a scheme that encouraged tenants to move into smaller homes as a success – and are now urging more to do the same.

Moray Council’s communities committee were told on Tuesday that 27 tenants had taken advantage of the scheme – with a further 19 currently awaiting a transfer.

The local authority offered incentives to tenants who were occupying homes that had more bedrooms than they required, paying out £1500 plus £400 for each bedroom relinquished.

In addition tenants were given practical assistance to help them move including arranging removal firms.

Introduced two years ago, the incentive scheme was designed to make more homes available for rental to families that needed them. The bulk of those who elected to downsize came from tenants over the age of 60 with most single occupants or couples with no children.

However, councillors were also told that while a success there were areas in which the scheme could be improved.

Housing Services manager Mike McClafferty said: “These include streamlining procedures to speed up payments to applicants and continuing to raise awareness of the scheme.

“However, given the potential of the scheme to assist the council to make best use of its housing stock, a more targeted marketing plan should be developed aimed at those tenants who may benefit from the scheme – for example, single person households in larger properties.”

Chairman of the communities committee, Councillor Eric McGillivray, highlighted that the scheme benefited tenants who were now in properties more in keeping with their needs.

He added: “I am delighted at the success of the scheme and we will be making every effort to ensure that other tenants who may benefit are aware that it is available to them,” he said.

“Already the scheme has released a number of larger properties which were previously under-occupied and which have now gone to families on the waiting list with the need for more space.

“I’m sure that in addition to the incentive payments they have received, those tenants who have moved into smaller properties will also be seeing the benefits of reduced utility bills.”

At the same meeting the committee learned that the waiting list for homes with Moray Council had increased over the past year, with 3666 applicants on the list at the end of March – up 269 on the same period last year.

An analysis of the waiting list showed that almost 40% of applicants named Elgin as their first location choice, while 11% of those on the list currently live in Aberdeenshire or Aberdeen City.

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