St Alban council tenants to lose out on 50 year payment

PUBLISHED: 14:45 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

A MONETARY reward for council house tenants of 50 years and over is set to be replaced - by a congratulations card from the Mayor. The change is planned as part of a shake-up of the incentives scheme for district council tenants after a review found that

A MONETARY reward for council house tenants of 50 years and over is set to be replaced - by a congratulations card from the Mayor.

The change is planned as part of a shake-up of the incentives scheme for district council tenants after a review found that a number of initiatives failed to promote equality and were not succeeding in encouraging people to downsize their properties

At this month's district council cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, councillors agreed to three changes to the incentives scheme which will need to be ratified by full council.

Under the plans, the 50th anniversary payment equivalent to one month's rent will be replaced with a card from the St Albans Mayor from April 2010.

The average payment amounted to £348 per household over the past year, costing the council £2,783 in total. But during the previous year it cost the council £7,814.

Councillors want to withdraw the scheme because of the cost of covering rising rent costs and because those occupying houses bigger than they need are receiving higher payments.

The council's decoration service will also be withdrawn once the backlog is cleared and the resources will be used to decorate vacant retirement and elderly designated properties and provide a handyman service for tenants moving to smaller properties.

At present anyone over 60 or disabled can have one room in their home decorated for free every two years provided that they live alone and don't have anyone to help.

Over the past year the council spent £26,321 on the scheme but had paid out more than three times that amount in the years leading up to 2007.

The council hopes that by decorating smaller properties it will encourage elderly people to move into them and free up larger housing stock for families.

A service charge for the garden maintenance scheme will also be introduced. For current users it will amount to 50 per cent of the cost until 2011 and the full amount thereafter but any new users will be charged the full cost from 2010.

Cllr Roma Mills raised some concerns about the proposals at the meeting but Cllr Joyce Lusby, portfolio holder for housing, insisted that the changes were necessary to promote equality between council tenants of all ages and housing association tenants.

She also stressed the need for more three bedroom houses in the district and said the changes were a good way of encouraging people who no longer needed them into moving into smaller properties.

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