Older people living in under-occupied social housing must be given attractive alternatives if they are to make way for families in overcrowded accommodation or on waiting lists, a key report has said.
Today’s report by the Mobility Taskforce came as housing minister Grant Shapps announced plans to make it easier for social housing tenants to move to more suitable accommodation by swapping with other tenants.
Shapps commissioned the National Housing Federation to set up a taskforce to look at increasing mobility for social tenants last year when he was shadow housing minister.
While 1.75m households are on council housing waiting lists in England, a quarter of a million families live in overcrowded housing and an estimated 430,000 live in under-occupied properties. Many of the latter are older people.
Community Care reported concerns last year that older people felt pressured to move from houses they had lived in for many years as a result of council efforts to encourage them to downsize to smaller properties and make way for younger families.
The report said older people were often reluctant to move because they would have to give up a spare room. It said social landlords should consider providing financial incentives for people to downsize and helping them move, while also offering attractive housing with at least one extra bedroom.
It also called on the government to amend housing benefit rules to ensure under-occupiers could move to a property with a spare bedroom and still have their rent covered.
Meanwhile concerns have been raised about an increase in homelessness from plans announced today by Shapps to examine whether new social housing tenants should have security of tenure, as current tenants do.
Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy said: “Removing the stability that social housing offers against a background of extensive cuts to housing benefit will ultimately make it even harder for people to move from the social sector to the private rented sector, particularly in London, and could ultimately lead to an increase in homelessness.”
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