Rescue deal helps 120 Norfolk and Suffolk households

A government scheme set up to help families at risk of losing their homes has seen 120 properties in Norfolk and Suffolk sold to housing associations and rented out to their former owners.

Last week South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon called the mortgage rescue scheme a 'costly failure' after a National Audit Office report said that since its launch by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) in 2009, it had achieved fewer than half of the rescues expected while also exceeding its �205m costs by �35m because most of the homes had been purchased outright by housing associations, which was the most costly option.

However distrct councils which administered the scheme on behalf of the government said the scheme kept dozens of families in their own homes while also helping to build up the future social housing stock.

Since it began there have been 74 properties sold to housing associations, via Orbit Housing, in Norfolk, while in Suffolk there were 46.

Jo Cottingham portfolio holder for housing and environmental services at Broadland District Council, said the scheme had enabled it to help 21 households, including families with young children, people with disabilities, and the elderly, remain in their own homes as tenants with four more cases in the pipeline.

'This is 21 households saved from being made homeless,' she said. 'The houses are now part of the housing stock for social rent, so while the overall bill for mortgage rescue might have been higher than envisaged, so too will be the number of houses available for social rent. There are social benefits of people being able to stay in their own homes, children can stay in their schools and their education is not disrupted and people can stay close to relatives, friends, support networks and jobs.'

Antony James-Orekogbe, principal officer for housing options at Breckland Council, which has completed 16 cases, said it was a cheaper and less disruptive alternative to putting families up in bed and breakfast accommodation.

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shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk

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