The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is recognising the service and sacrifice made by key workers during the pandemic by backing them to be first in the queue for thousands of new genuinely affordable homes being built across London.
The Mayor has consulted with trade unions, emergency services and local authorities to create a list of essential occupations who have a direct role in providing services that Londoners rely on. This includes the provision of care and education, and roles that support public safety, transportation and utilities that underpin and sustain the capital. The GLA has chosen to adopt the ONS occupation-based definition of key workers – the same list the government used for defining key workers throughout the pandemic – with the addition of a number of roles following consultation with trade unions and other stakeholders for the purposes of allocating intermediate housing in London.
Local authorities and housing providers will now be encouraged to build the new London-wide list into their allocation policies for intermediate housing. It is intended that this new approach will prevent Londoners in key worker roles from having to move away from their workplaces and communities due to the sometimes prohibitive cost of housing in the capital.
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 shared ownership and London Living Rent with both subject to an income cap.
Across London there is huge demand for intermediate housing. The 2017 Strategic Housing Market Assessment estimated that 11,870 intermediate homes are needed in London each year between 2016 and 2041 to fully meet the needs of Londoners. Until that goal is met, policies governing the allocation of intermediate homes can help assure these new homes have the greatest positive impact on London. The Mayor is spearheading initiatives to develop intermediate housing on certain sites near a key worker institution, including the St Ann’s hospital development in Haringey in partnership with Catalyst housing association and the NHS Trust.
Key workers are a large population in every borough in London, including households with unmet housing needs that match the profile of eligibility for intermediate housing. There are an estimated 1.35 million key workers in London as defined by the Mayor’s new list. Overall, 29.8 percent of working Londoners are employed within key worker occupations. London’s key workers are concentrated in three occupation groups: health and social care, utilities and communication, and education and childcare.
Londoners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to work in key worker occupations while 34 per cent of women in London work in key worker roles, compared to 25 per cent of men. The Mayor believes that access to genuinely affordable housing is one of the key mechanisms to make London a fairer and more equitable city, especially for those who have previously been excluded from the capital’s success.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Never has London been more indebted to the dedicated and selfless service of our key workers. They keep us safe, care for us, and provide the essential services without which our capital would grind to a halt.
“Their heroic efforts during the pandemic have shone a spotlight on the injustice that many key workers still can’t afford to live in our city. Housing costs have driven far too many Londoners away, robbing us of their skills and expertise. Providing more access to Intermediate housing, alongside much-needed homes for social rent, will play a vital role in turning that tide.
“By helping London’s essential workers buy or rent a home below the market rate we can help them to put down roots and ensure they can become a vital part of the communities they serve.”
Guy Burnett, Chair of the G15 Development Directors’ Sub-Group and Executive Director of Development at MTVH, said: “The pandemic has shown us just how important key workers are to all our lives, and it is critical that people performing these vital jobs can continue to find good quality affordable places to live in London. Shared ownership provides a fantastic opportunity for people to secure a home with much lower deposit requirements, and is already a really popular choice for many key workers. G15 housing associations built three-quarters of London’s affordable homes last year and we look forward to continue working with the Mayor to provide the affordable homes that London needs.”
TUC London regional Secretary Sam Gurney said: “It’s vital for the future of our city that key workers can afford to live in London.