PLANS to offer thousands of Leeds council tenants free cookers, fridges and other household items – to help keep them out of the grips of high-cost providers – look set to move forward.
As reported in the YEP last week, Leeds council leader Keith Wakefield has made tackling poverty one of his top priorities for 2014. The city has already led a high-profile campaign to fight the scourge of payday lenders preying on the vulnerable.
And it is now hoped the introduction of a citywide household goods scheme could help ease the burden for many struggling households.
Council homes are currently let completely unfurnished. The authority already provides help to vulnerable people through its Local Welfare Support Scheme, which supports those with short term needs and up to the end of November last year, 915 cookers, 22 microwaves and 766 fridges had been provided under that initiative.
The new expanded scheme could see all new tenants offered a ‘menu’ of furniture, electrical appliances and household goods. A service charge would be applicable, and would be calculated according to the items selected.
Initial proposals discussed in September have now progressed to a second stage, and a consultation is set be carried out subject to approval. Under the plan, new tenants would be surveyed over the next three months to ascertain demand for the scheme.
A report to be discussed by the council’s housing and regeneration scrutiny panel tomorrow says the scheme would have a “direct and positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the household”. It adds that research in other cities found “clear evidence of demand”.
The report says: “The consultation includes ascertaining how tenants would acquire household items in the absence of such a scheme, by accessing high interest providers for example”. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you