Mayor of London to prioritise housing for key workers

Housing Block with dark sky

The Mayor of London is to recognise the service and sacrifice made by key workers during the Coronavirus pandemic by backing them to be first in the queue for thousands of new genuinely affordable homes being built across London.

The list will include nurses and other NHS staff as well as police officers, transport workers, firefighters and teachers. A new expectation in planning guidance will mean boroughs use this list to give people in these occupations priority access to buy or rent homes below market rates. Local authorities will also be able to add occupations to the core list to reflect local needs.

The new London-wide list is in response to a wider consultation on the role of intermediate housing in London in the wake of the pandemic.

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 – these are the homes to which key workers will be now be given priority access.

Planning guidance will be strengthened to enforce the expectation that key workers should be prioritised, with regard to local need, if local authorities and housing providers choose to set additional prioritisation criteria for the first three months of marketing new intermediate homes.

The Mayor will also continue to champion schemes in which landowners, housing providers and local authorities have successfully worked together to deliver homes that are provided exclusively for local key workers.

In London, most homes sold on the open market are not affordable to key workers. The median average price of a flat in London is £426,000 – which can be more than 11 times a firefighter’s annual wage, more than 12 times a teacher’s salary, and more than 13 times a nurse’s income.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London’s key workers are the lifeblood of our city and we all depend on their hard work every day – to keep us safe, to care for us, and to provide other essential services. Their heroic service during the pandemic has further highlighted the injustice that many key workers still can’t afford to live in the capital.

“Making it easier for key workers to live in the city they serve with such dedication is the very least they deserve. 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.”