Redbridge scheme for older homeowners hailed by housing minister

A scheme being piloted in Redbridge to help older homeowners downsize should be taken up across the country, according to the housing minister.

Redbridge Council is considering a FreeSpace scheme which allows homeowners without a mortgage to move to smaller accommodation without having to sell their home.

The scheme, which will be presented to the council’s cabinet next month, could “make a life-changing difference for some older people”, according to housing minister Grant Shapps.

Homeowners would be helped to move to suitable accommodation while leasing their property to the council.

It would then be rented to a family looking for housing.

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The rental income would pass to the homeowners with the council taking on any landlord responsibilities.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Shapps said: “The FreeSpace project in Redbridge shows what could be achieved - under this scheme older people will be able to live independently for longer and enjoy more disposable income without selling their home, and other families will benefit from living in an affordable home.”

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Offers to older homeowners being considered by the council include:

- High standard sheltered or one-bedroom social housing in Redbridge.

- Social housing in another part of the country if they want to be nearer to relatives.

- Private rented accommodation in Redbridge on a long lease with a guarantee of assistance should circumstances change.

Cllr Robin Turbefield, cabinet member for housing, said: “I am pleased that our pilot scheme has been highlighted as an example that others should follow.

“We’re always looking at innovative ways that we can help to accommodate families in need and this pilot gives us an opportunity to further explore ways of doing this.”

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