Tenants offered help to downsize to smaller homes

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OLDER social housing tenants in Wigan struggling to manage and heat their large family homes are being offered a dedicated officer to help them find smaller properties more suited to their needs.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced this week that £150,000 has been allocated to the borough to help pensioners downsize.

He argued that this will give these people the key to finding a home they can enjoy, not endure – and can give them the security and dignity they deserve. The amount will be available each year until 2013, with further funding available until 2015.

Ministers are clear that they will not force people to move – but want to provide a helping hand to those wanting to do so.

There are 430,000 under-occupied social homes in England – where tenants have two or more bedrooms more than they require. In many cases, these properties are occupied by elderly tenants whose children have grown up and moved out.

With more room than they actually need, many of these residents can become prisoners in their own homes, finding it a struggle to look after and heat the properties that are now too big for them to manage.

So Mr Shapps confirmed that councils from across the country managing the largest number of homes will get a share of £13m over four years, to make it easier for those tenants wanting to move from larger family homes to smaller, more manageable homes, to do so.

Councils will be able to use this funding as they see fit to better meet the needs of their tenants, with measures such as a dedicated officer to help find residents a suitable new home; a moving service to help tenants and handymen to decorate and make repairs to their new home.