Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rising housing costs forcing public service workers out of London

25% spend more than £300 per week on their housing costs...more than 50% of their income. Who is going to work in our hospitals, our schools, clean our streets, maintain our parks & provide all our other public services?

I missed the launch of this excellent report by UNISON last month.  This is not just a crisis facing London but in high cost housing areas throughout the UK. I used the report for this motion and speech to the London Labour conference.

"UNISON launches a survey report into the impact of housing costs on London’s public service workers

London faces an exodus of public service workers as housing costs become unaffordable, says a new report published today (Tuesday) by UNISON.

The report, based on a survey of over 1,000 UNISON members living and working in London, showed that two thirds of workers (63%) spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This figure rises to 82% for private renters.

According to the findings, nurses, teaching assistants, social workers and other public service employees are increasingly looking to leave London as a result of exorbitant housing costs. Almost two thirds (62%) of workers want to leave the capital because of the cost of housing. This figure rises to 87% for health workers living in the private rented sector.

The departure of staff from the capital would deepen the already serious recruitment and retention problems in public services, with knock-on repercussions for schools, hospitals and other public services, says UNISON.

Ahead of the launch of the report in the Houses of Parliament, UNISON’s newly-appointed London regional secretary Maggi Ferncombe said: “The lack of suitable, decent and affordable housing is hurting public service workers.

“Employers are also struggling to recruit and retain staff. In London, we are seeing evidence of staff shortages and high turnover of staff, with turnover rates at 30% in some areas.”

“The government needs to take real action to resolve the housing crisis. And that doesn’t mean just making changes to Stamp Duty.”

“That is why UNISON is calling on the Mayor of London and the government to set a target to build more genuinely affordable homes, working with councils and housing associations to solve the housing crisis.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON’s London Housing Survey Report is available here– The report will be launched in The Houses of Parliament on 28 November 18.00-19.30, hosted by Daniel Zeichner MP and chaired by Maggi Ferncombe, UNISON London Regional Secretary. Speakers include John Healey MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Housing), Melanie Onn MP (Shadow Housing Minister), Yvonne Green (UNISON Regional Convenor for London) and James Murray (Deputy Mayor of London), followed by a panel discussion.
– A recent study by the Chartered Institute of Housing shows that 79% of government spending on housing subsidises the private housing market.
– London has the highest rents in comparison to average weekly wages. According to the National Housing Federation: “The average rent in the Private Rented Sector in London is more than double the average for the rest of England. House prices in London are nearly double the national average (mean) at £563,000; and average house prices are almost 17 times local salaries, this means that a household in London will require an income of almost £130,000 a year to afford an average mortgage compared to average salaries of just 34,000.”
– Maggi Ferncombe has worked for UNISON for the past 22 years and became the Regional Secretary for the South East region in May 2015. Prior to that she was a regional manager in the London region for 10 years. She left school at 16 with 5 O’levels and worked in retail for a couple of years before getting a job with the trade union MSF (now part of Unite).

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