'Speed dating' encourages Oxford tenants to swap homes

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More than 80 Oxford tenants have registered to swap their homes thanks to council-run "speed dating" sessions.

The events are for council and housing association tenants keen to downsize to avoid penalties for under-occupying their home or find a bigger one.

In total 14 tenants have now found potential "matches" and 88 people have registered an interest in a home swap.

Housing benefit for eligible social housing tenants with spare bedrooms was cut by an average £14 a week in April.

Nine people found 18 potential properties between them that they would like to move to at the speed dating event at Oxford Town Hall on Thursday.

'Really encouraging'

James Pickering, the council's welfare reform manager, said: "Some people identified more than one property which is really encouraging from our point of view.

"Hopefully that will lead on to good things. We have ended up with 88 properties.

"It's really starting to gain momentum."

Each participant in the events must wear a badge containing details of their home and the type of property they want to move to.

They are also asked to take two photographs of their home with them.

Applicants must get permission from their landlord before applying to exchange their home.

The government wants to end what it calls the "spare room subsidy" for social tenants, but the move has been branded a "bedroom tax" by critics.

The next speed dating session will be held at Blackbird Leys Community Centre in Oxford on 28 August.

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