Mayor seeks to offer London’s key workers affordable homes and boost social housing

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The Mayor is asking Londoners for their views on proposals to give key workers in the capital, which could include nurses, police officers and teachers, priority access to buy or rent homes below market rates.

The proposed new key worker list is part of a wider consultation on the role of intermediate housing in London in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented on the announcement:  “Londoners know how much we value and depend on the hard work of the key workers who keep London running even during a time of crisis.

“Housing costs have driven far too many Londoners away from our great city, robbing us of their skills and expertise.

“Intermediate housing, alongside much-needed homes for social rent, can play a vital role in turning that tide.

“I want to hear from Londoners and our partners about how I can best support London’s key workers to be able to access a safe and secure home that they can afford.

“By helping people buy or rent a home below the market rate we encourage them to put down roots, become part of a community and help London thrive.”

Intermediate housing is defined as affordable housing which is targeted at people who are unlikely to access homes at social rent levels, but who are not able to afford to buy or rent a suitable home on the open market.

The two types of intermediate homes preferred by the Mayor are London Shared Ownership and London Living Rent.

Salaries for occupations traditionally defined as ‘key workers’, including education, health care and emergency services, are often around £25,000 – £45,000 in London.

This means many are eligible for shared ownership homes (having a household income of up to £90,000 per annum) or intermediate rented homes (having a household income of up to £60,000 per annum).

The Mayor wants to understand how best to include key workers in these criteria and wants to hear from Londoners on which occupations should be defined in this way.

The consultation will also look at a broad range of other issues relating to intermediate housing, including how affordability can be improved, what more can be done to support delivery of new homes and how the transparency and consistency of allocation of these homes can be increased across London.

London’s greatest housing need is for social rented homes, and the Mayor’s priority remains delivering ‘a significant increase in homes at social rent levels.’

However, addressing the housing crisis also requires helping Londoners who struggle to afford private rents or are locked out of the housing market to access safe and secure homes that they can afford.

In addition, much of the funding that the Mayor currently receives  – and is likely to receive in the future – is shaped by restrictions from the Government which require that it is spent on delivering homes for affordable home ownership.

Joint research between the Greater London Authority and the G15 group of large London housing associations found that delivering 32,500 affordable homes each year, with 70 per cent as social rented homes, 20 per cent as shared ownership and 10 per cent as intermediate rented homes, would require a capital funding settlement of £4.9 billion a year between 2022 and 2032.

This is seven times more than the Government currently grants London.

Helen Evans, Chair of the G15 group of London’s largest housing associations and Chief Executive of Network Homes, commented:Housing associations stand ready to support the key workers who have kept our country going through this pandemic.

“Our key workers deserve the chance to secure safe, sustainable accommodation that they can afford to live in long-term.

“Whilst we continue to push for the social rented homes London needs, it is vital we also have options for those who struggle to afford private rents or are locked out of the housing market.”