Milton Keynes Council is proposing a new ‘Downsizing Incentives Policy’ to help current occupants move to better suited homes in order to tackle the town’s homelessness crisis.
Last weekend, the number of families in temporary accommodation was 624, with a total of 1314 children. The Council desperately needs family-sized accommodation, particularly 3 and 4 bedroom houses. Although the Council is working on building 500 new Council houses, they take time to build.
At the same time, there are hundreds of council houses that are under-occupied. These are often large houses that no longer meet the needs of their tenants. In order to encourage tenants to downsize, the Council is proposing a new ‘Downsizing Incentives Policy’. It is based on 5 objectives:
- To encourage and assist tenants to downsize to better meet their needs.
- To release family accommodation to maximise occupancy.
- To make best use of existing stock.
- To contribute to the costs incurred as the result of moving.
- To be sensitive to the needs of the individual tenant or household.
The policy offers financial incentives to encourage moves, ranging from £1,500 to £4,500 depending on the size of the property being vacated. But it also reflects the Council’s commitment to helping older tenants stay in a home of their own in the community for as long as possible. This often means supporting moves to bungalows or sheltered housing.
Cllr Nigel Long, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration said: “Milton Keynes faces a dreadful homelessness problem. Over 600 families with over 1300 children in temporary accommodation. Yet we have hundreds of under-occupied council houses. Plus, many older tenants are in properties that are not the best way to meet their needs. They have stairs, for example, or an inaccessible bathroom. So, it makes sense to encourage tenants to move to smaller and more suitable housing. That is what the proposed ‘Downsizing Incentives Policy’ aims to do.”
Cllr Long concluded: “I believe the new Downsizing Incentives Policy will help address homelessness and help people to move to more suitable accessible accommodation. It is a good step forward as we build a modern, high quality, choice-based housing service.”