MEMBERS of Aberdeenshire Council’s social work and housing committee agreed a grant scheme for tenants who ‘downsize’ from three and four bedroom houses at a recent meeting at Woodhill House in Aberdeen.
Councillors gave their backing to a scheme that will provide £3,000 for tenants downsizing by one bedroom and an additional £1,000 for every further bedroom relinquished up to a maximum of £5,000.
The scheme is subject to criteria which includes prioritising those tenants where the grant is an influencing factor in moving and will be open not only to council tenants but also those moving from council to housing association homes too.
The local authority will also provide support to tenants who need practical help in moving home and which will be deducted from the grant upon arrangement.
For instance, an older person may require assistance arranging removal services and the council can provide support as part of the downsizing grant, in negotiation with tenants.
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of housing Douglas Edwardson advised members that the new process made better use of the grant in a more focussed way as well as making provision for people who needed support to move home.
Members welcomed the new scheme and asked that all councillors be provided with the details and criteria for the grant.
Following the meeting, committee chair, Councillor Karen Clark, said: “The grant will create movement in council housing and has the potential to free up around 200 three and four bedroom homes each year.
“I encourage tenants to take advantage of the downsizing grant which offers a winning solution for everyone, those moving as well as those looking for a larger home for their family.
“In addition, with future changes to Welfare Benefits that will affect people living in homes that are too big for their needs it could create solutions here too.
“The grant provides people with an opportunity to move now, and get assistance to do so, rather than later, when the benefit changes take effect (from April 2013) and impact those under-occupying homes.”
Vice-chair Alisan Norrie added: “This scheme makes the best use of the homes the council has available and encourages people to live in housing that matches their needs.
“It is the next best solution to creating new homes and has the potential to provide opportunities for people on council and housing association waiting lists for larger homes to gain from a better standard of living.”