Lone tenant gets up to £12,000 of taxpayer money to free up eight-bed council house for families in need
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A lone tenant who was given thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to move out of her eight-bedroom council house is one of hundreds to benefit from financial incentives to free up homes for larger families.
Juleka Khatun, who lived in a terraced house in Kentish Town, was given up to £12,000 to downsize as part of a Camden Council scheme’s incentives for tenants to move into smaller homes.
Her Falkland Road house has now been converted into a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom flat by the local authority.
And one of the new tenants, mother-of-four Jocelyne Lesin, 37, was handed keys to the three-bedroom home on Monday (September 8) by council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward.
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Cllr Hayward said: “We have got literally thousands of kids living in overcrowded conditions which are really quite bad for families in terms of quality of life.
“Some haven’t got enough space to do their homework.
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“We have got massive waiting lists in Camden with more than 29,000 families waiting for a home.
“The properties we have are skewed towards one-bedroom flats or studios, so to provide accommodation to families like Jocelyne’s is amazing.”
Ms Khatun chose to move into a smaller three-bedroom council home a year ago after her three children grew up and left her living alone in the house for most of the year.
She contacted the council’s mobility team, who showed her the benefits of downsizing, such as reduced energy bills and financial incentives known as the Tenants’ Options Fund.
Ms Khatun’s decision to downsize was apparently not a direct result of the controversial bedroom tax, a levy brought in by the government in April 2013 to dock housing benefit for tenants with spare bedrooms in a bid to force tenants to downsize.
She said: “Heating wise, it will save us money. The old house never used to warm up much during winter-time.
“It’s good that two families are living in our old house now. It makes sense that old people with small families move out of big houses to make space for people with big families to move in.”
Since April 2012, 403 Camden families have used the Tenants’ Options Fund to move into smaller homes.
In stark comparison, just 4.5 per cent of the 1,944 families who had their housing benefit docked by bedroom tax moved into smaller homes between April 2013 and April this year.
The council claims a ring-fenced pool of money from council tenants’ rents funds the incentives scheme.
Eight people will now move into the home once occupied by Ms Khatun, including full-time mum Ms Lesin.
A pregnant mother and her two-year-old son will move into the other two-bedroom flat.