Barnet council to look at key worker housing strategy following Labour intervention

Barnet Council's housing committee has agreed to look at developing a housing strategy for key workers after Labour councillors raised recruitment and retention problems caused by the lack of affordable and social housing in the borough.

At the housing committee on 20 October Labour councillors highlighted findings from a recent report "The Business Case for Affordable Housing" commissioned by Peabody and the CBI, and researched by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, which found that:

  • London's social housing residents make a contribution that is five times greater than the housing benefit bill for social housing tenants in London in the same year. 
  • Londoners living in social housing contributed at least £15bn to the capital's economy in 2015 alone. 
  • One in three police officers and ambulance staff in London live in social housing. 
  • One in three workers in care-related jobs in London live in social housing.
  • Over 30 per cent of London workers in lower paid jobs which are essential to the effective running of the capital live in social housing - these include carers, security staff, cleaners, postal workers, kitchen assistants, and bar staff and waiters/waitresses.
  • Businesses of all sizes and sectors have made it clear that both housing cost and availability is negatively impacting on their ability to recruit and retain staff. 
  • The narrow definition of key workers fails to represent the essential role to the economy of many people working on lower incomes. 
  • Post-Brexit, ensuring London remains globally competitive is even more important, and that means making sure the people who keep our city running have an affordable home.
The report also found that for six out of ten of the most common elementary jobs in London, average rents are more than 100% of their salaries.
Over 800 social homes have been removed in Barnet through the regeneration of council estates at West Hendon, Grahame Park, Stonegrove and Dollis Valley, and demand for affordable housing is not being met locally, resulting in more and more people being forced to move out of the borough. This has been formalised by a recent council policy to acquire cheap housing outside the borough to move people to.

Labour councillors are concerned that this could be damaging Barnet's local economy and businesses, and making it harder for the Council to recruit and retain quality key workers - like social workers.

The committee agreed that a report on the issue would come back to a future meeting for discussion.

Labour's Housing Spokesperson, Cllr Ross Houston said:

"I am very pleased that the Housing Committee agreed to look at how we can ensure that the workers who keep our local economy moving and our public services working can afford to live in the borough.
"This research shows that housing in both Inner and Outer London is now unaffordable for workers like cleaners, catering assistants, care workers, nurses, taxi drivers, chefs and teaching assistants.

"The contribution these workers make to both the local and London economy is immense, and we need to recognise that and make sure our housing and other policies do as well."

Ends.
Notes:

1. Link to the Peabody / CBI / Centre for Economic and Business Research report "The Business Case for Affordable Housing": http://www.peabody.org.uk/media/6381/business-case-for-affordable-housing.pdf

2. Link to Housing Committee agenda for 20 October: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=699&MId=8629&Ver=4 

For more information contact Cllr Houston: cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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