Friday, February 05, 2010

Southwark's "Small is Beautiful" Scheme in Chaos

Southwark has been operating the "Small is Beautiful" scheme which is designed to provide financial incentives to tenants of council properties who have more rooms and bedrooms than they need. Most typically this situation arises when families move away from home leaving older parents behind. These tenants will then move to smaller properties, freeing up their old properties for families living in over-crowded conditions.

Tenants moving from the larger properties receive a financial incentive of £750 for every bedroom that they give up, plus £750 to help pay for moving costs.

This week I found out that all payments under the scheme have been halted until at least April. This means that many older tenants I have spoken to simply cannot afford to move, and the problems further down the housing ladder continue.

This is a truly ludicrous situation. Overcrowding is one of the major problems facing many families in Southwark, so to bring a halt to this sensible scheme at this time makes absolutely no sense. If the scheme required more funding, it should have been found. With Southwark's council tax collection rate under the LibDems and Tories being the third worst in the country (with £7 million of council tax going uncollected each year), and money being lavished on £150 million new offices in Tooley Street, it is scandalous that basic services are suffering at this time.

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