London employers are being asked to step up and sign pledges put forward by the ‘Fifty Thousand Homes’ campaign to help workers cope with soaring housing costs. Leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP is one of the first businesses to sign up to the pledge.
The pledges range from paying the London Living Wage for all staff and offering direct financial support, such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, to developing flexible working and providing guidance and advice to employees experiencing housing difficulty.
Tenancy deposit loans help support employees with the cost of securing a rented property in London with businesses offering staff interest-free loans to cover the cost of a deposit, similar to what many firms currently do with season ticket loans.
To lead the way, the Mayor has today signed up the whole GLA family to the Fifty Thousand Homes pledges – with City Hall, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation all now having introduced or committed to offering tenancy deposit loans, as well as meeting the other Fifty Thousand Homes pledges.
The Mayor praised the first businesses to sign up to the pledges - Optimity, Arup, Mace Group and Grant Thornton UK LLP – and called on businesses across London to follow suit.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is unacceptable that so many hard-working Londoners continue to be priced out of their own city – it is bad for Londoners and bad for the future economic success of the capital. I am determined to tackle the housing crisis head on and I will be using my new planning rules and my record funding deal with government to build new affordable homes to rent and buy.
“We know that building new homes to tackle the housing crisis won’t happen overnight – it’s a marathon, not a sprint - but in the meanwhile we need to do whatever we can to help Londoners struggling to meet the soaring cost of housing. That’s why I am pleased to announce City Hall and the entire GLA family is now committed to offering tenancy deposit loans to staff, and I would urge all
London businesses to sign the Employers’ Pledge on housing too. We must do all we can to retain and attract the best talent in our capital and to make sure we remain a city for all Londoners.”
Naomi Smith, Director of the Fifty Thousand Homes campaign, said: “London’s high cost of housing is a huge challenge for businesses, risking our ability to attract and retain the people we need to keep our city working and thriving. Employers want to help their workers struggling with rent or trying to get onto the housing ladder. But we have to start unlocking more land in London, otherwise we’ll carry on slipping backwards.”
To sign up to the Fifty Thousand Homes’ Employers’ Pledges, employers should visit londonfirst.co.uk. Organisations will commit to implementing the first of their pledges within six months and the campaign aims to sign up 100 organisations this year.
Robert Hannah, chief operating officer at Grant Thornton, one of the first companies to sign up, said: “Solving London’s housing crisis could unlock economic growth in the capital by helping businesses keep hold of the skilled people they need, as well as addressing some of the issues around social integration that are becoming more apparent. It is only through collaboration that we will be able to tackle the growing problem of housing in London and as a large employer of people in London, we want to take our share of that responsibility.”
The action comes as Fifty Thousand Homes research reveals the scale of the challenge the Mayor and employers are taking on. London’s overall housing shortfall has quadrupled since 2010, from 46,000 homes in 2010 to close to 210,000 in 20161, as a result of London’s growing economy and population and an historic failure to build more homes.
For the vital creative, tech, retail and hospitality industries, which contribute around £40bn to London’s economy each year, up to 150,000 homes are missing for people working in these sectors2.
The Mayor has pledged to tackle the housing crisis head on and has set out new planning rules to help speed up the building of more affordable housing and has secured a record-breaking £3.15bn deal from government for 90,000 new affordable homes in the capital.
He has also begun identifying public land that can be used to deliver new housing, fast-tracking 75 sites across 300 acres of TfL land that could deliver up to 10,000 new homes for Londoners.
Many experts say that 50,000 new homes are needed in London each year and the average cost of a home in London is more than 14 times average earnings3, which means there has to be a dramatic and sustainable increase in the number of homes being built to protect and enhance the capital’s competitiveness as a global city.