Fife council recently announced that they are going to incentivise downsizing. This got us thinking, will incentives work to encourage people to downsize? It is something we are going to look at in this article.

Why is there a need for people to downsize?

The Fife Council approach comes after a need for homes with a higher number of bedrooms to be put back into the housing stock. They are wanting tenants who have homes with more bedrooms than they need to move into smaller houses. This will then free up the homes with more bedrooms for those who need them such as families. This is an approach that could be considered across the whole of the UK.

What are the options to incentivise downsizing?

In the case of Fife Council they are offering up to £2,700 if you agree to move and may wipe previous debts with furniture being moved for free also.

Options for financial assistance include an incentive cash payment of £1,500, ‘disruption allowance’ of £400 and £400 per bedroom that’s being given up.

This £2700 figure comes from the example of moving from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home. You would receive £800 for the two bedrooms, £1,500 incentive and disruption allowance of £400, picking up a total of £2,700 for downsizing.

Options also include a free rent fortnight to moving time, relaxation of exit standards or recharges or a ‘new tenant set up package’. We are not saying all councils or boroughs need to replicate this. However, where there is an acute shortage of affordable homes for families this could be an option to consider.

How easy will it be to persuade people to downsize?

Persuading people to leave their home may not be an easy decision, regardless of the incentive. Homes are not just bricks and mortar to people. It is also about the memories made in them. Plus, if there is no financial pressure to downsize then the reality is it probably won’t happen. Financial incentives is certainly a good option to look at. There may be some people inclined to take up an offer such as this, but it won’t appeal to everyone. However. even if it frees up much needed larger housing stock that has to be a good thing.

Councils will want to see this work as they will want people to live in houses suited for them so that more people have a chance to be housed. However, people may not want to give up their extra room or move from an area they have lived in for years.

Will other councils follow suit?

For example, how many people have taken up this option? What has been the financial cost of doing this? The results whatever they are will be interest and can act as a marker in the sand should other councils be considering this approach to downsizing. However, they may need more than just financial incentives to make this work. A lot may depend on the data that Fife Council manages to generate on the back of this initiative.