You just can't get the staff... High housing costs, recruitment and the impact on London business

The new business-led housing campaign Fifty Thousand Homes is striking not just due to the impressive number of CEOs they’ve signed up but because businesses are joining together to ask the question: where will ordinary working people live? Housing organisations across the board have long made the case that the construction sector is critical to UK plc. But what today’s campaign launch signals is that the impact of high housing costs on attracting workers is having a serious impact on business competitiveness, particularly in London.

At Shelter our concern is that people have a home that is genuinely affordable, as well as being decent and secure. With house prices in London now more than 12 times the average London wage and rents taking up half of take home pay, an affordable place to live is far out of reach of many families. Fifty Thousand Homes have put the impact on ordinary people front and centre of their rallying call and we were pleased to join up.

Seeing senior leaders at organisations like HSBC and John Lewis compelled to speak out on this issue establishes beyond doubt that housing is set to be the defining issue of the London Mayoral contest next year. But while it’s clear that housing will be talked about more than any other issue in the election, what we need now is action, not just words.

The election campaign in London will play out against a backdrop of national government policy that risks phasing out homes affordable to people on typical incomes in favour of homes for higher earners. The result is a bit more home ownership for the already wealthy, with working people on typical incomes consigned to expensive, unstable private renting for life. The human impact of that is considerable but today’s campaign launch indicates that this also has significant ramifications for businesses trying to recruit staff in high cost areas.

The next Mayor will have a huge opportunity to do something about this and lead the way for the rest of the country – not just in building houses and flats but delivering homes that are genuinely affordable for ordinary people.


One Comment
  1. If left to the builders which Colin Wiles (Independent Housing Consultant) refers to as a semi cartel, the homes will not be built. Their profits and the mortgage providers collateral is why so few houses are built. The numbers of small builders which built the council houses before Right to Buy (168,000 in 1981, 1320, 2010) are reduced from 12,000 in 1989 to 2,500 today. Without these independents the cartel will dictate. To break it, Right to Buy must be repealed VAT removed from repairs and maintenance and long term security of tenure must be returned to private tenants. Without these reforms the only way to a secure home is through owner occupation now reserved for the affluent only.

Comments are closed.