Council to encourage downsizing to free up property

ANGUS Council is planning to offer council house tenants grants of £2,500 in an effort to persuade those with houses too large for their needs to free up the property for families.

The local authority is currently faced with a demand for larger properties such as three-bedroom homes, and to meet this demand they have launched the Downsizing Incentive Scheme to encourage current tenants to move into smaller accommodation.

Similar initiatives have already been launched elsewhere in Scotland and the neighbourhood services committee decided Angus Council would follow suit at a meeting on Thursday last week.

In a report to councillors, housing director Ron Ashton said that an examination of Angus occupancy had revealed the full scale of the problem.

He said: “The Angus Housing Need and Demand Assessment 2010 identified significant levels of un-met housing need across Angus.”

The report stated that one in five of the older respondents to the assessment said that the house they currently live in is too large for their needs.

Mr Ashton said: “Amongst the 7,203 general needs properties owned and managed by the council, 247 are considered to be under occupied.

“From the council waiting list, 527 of the 4,232 applicants are waiting for large properties to become available.

“The stock of three bedroom-plus houses is relatively small, and individual properties become available for re-let infrequently.”

Following the neighbourhood services committee’s agreement to adopt the new grant scheme, Councillor Jim Millar, convener of housing, said: “We know that there are a number of older people who are living in homes which they feel are too large for their current needs and at the same time, we have more than 500 applicants on the housing waiting list who are seeking larger properties.

“This scheme gives us an opportunity to make best use of existing social rented housing for the benefit of all tenants.”

A sum of £50,000 has been set aside to cover the grant cost of the downsizing incentive scheme pilot project which will cover payments of up to a total of 20 applicants.

Angus Council previously had an incentive package of £500 but officials believed that it was unattractive to tenants.