Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Housing scheme launched for low wage workers

A London council has launched a pilot programme for low wage workers who have not previously been prioritised for social housing.

Westminster Council will allow workers earning below a certain threshold – likely to be set at around £30,000 - to apply for affordable rent accommodation, with rents around a third cheaper than they would find in the private sector.

The initial pilot will involve around 25 homes in London’s west end but could be extended if it is successful.

Jonathan Glanz, cabinet member for housing, said: ‘We are working to provide fairer housing options to lower-earning individuals who play a vital role in the economic life of the west end.’

The plan was also welcomed by housing minister Grant Shapps. But Westminster’s Labour group questioned whether it would work and claimed that new government-set housing benefit caps would drive more low-earning people out of the borough.

Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster Labour, added: ‘With housebuilding at its lowest point for decades, housing supply is not increasing to keep pace with demand.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • What a fantastic programme and I hope it is successful with more in the future like it.

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  • F451

    At last, something sensible from Westminster.

    Of course, there was a time when there were over four million such homes, called social housing. Now of course, after the Tory sale of the century and short sighted support of privatisation funded by benefit, there are not the homes available to house the poor, let alone the greater motives behind social housing in the first place.

    Now, all we need is a commitment to replace the 2 million lost homes for workers, and in the mean time a freezing of private rents at the minimum, and a capping as an optimum whilst we wait for the homes given away by previous governments to be replaced.

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  • Gavin Rider

    I can't help thinking that this is just "papering over the cracks" to make things look nice.

    IMO what is needed is to reduce the growing number of private landlords who are largely responsible for rent inflation, and to replace them with a few properly regulated corporate providers of private rented accommodation (a.k.a. Housing Associations).

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  • Gavin Rider

    F451 - they were not "given away" they were sold, to long-term tenants who in the main part would have remained living in them whether they continued to rent or not.

    RtB is not the cause of the lack of sufficient supply today - lack of new provision to satisfy new demand is the cause of that. Since existing tenants are part of existing demand, and converting them from tenants to owner-occupiers reduces existing demand by exactly the same amount as the reduction in existing supply, the net effect on availability for new tenants is ZERO, as I have explained to you numerous times before.

    It would not matter whether you have two million or ten million additional social houses in the existing stock - if they all had long-term sitting tenants in them their houses would not help new families in need of housing. That need can only be satisfied with additional housing construction that is proportionate (but not equal) to the demand.

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  • If a person buys they reduce the supply. But if they could afford to buy, they could buy a new build or commission their own property to be built and increase supply.
    Buy to let is immoral because it bids up prices of existing property, it needs to be replace by build to let, profits then fall as demand is met, capital invested correctly and everybody happy.

    The current system is insane and prices the likes of me out of work.

    Cheers for paying my dole and housing benefit, just bare in mind my housing benefit is a subsidy to you in your cushy housing job, by rights you should be on the dole and I should be able to work in the capitalist economy. Thank the lord for the black market and clandestine production, for it is production where real wealth lies.

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  • As with most of these things the theory sounds good and then you look at the practical. A family earning under £30k per year would be still be expected to find £975 a month for a 3 bedroom property using LHA rates. How on earth could a family on that sort of wage find almost £1k a month in rent??? Ridiculous.

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  • Mike Batt

    Was there not a time when you had to be working to qualify for social housing?

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  • Let's not get too excited, folks, it's only 25 units. Which, as the above poster has noted, no-one will be able to afford, so the pilot will be deemed a failure and that will be that.

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  • F451

    Was there not a time when working did not have to mean employment?

    Was there not a time when social housing meant decent homes in stable communities at rents that enabled the poor man to live next door to the business owner?

    Was there not a time when every person had a 'right to a living' and upon that land could grow food sufficient for their needs and build a home to match their requirements?

    And then there is now!

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  • Stephen Gibson

    This article is missing important details which are needed to put the pilot scheme into context.

    This new scheme is ONLY for shared accomodation.

    It is also ONLY for single applicants who are under 35.

    These two important facts should have been mentioned in the article.

    Putting that to one side...

    Even though it is only for 25 homes, it is a step in the right direction.

    However...EVERY single London council needs to carry out detailed research into every property they own and also into the numbers of 'empty' (6 months or more) properties contained within their borough.

    This would be with the specific remit of ascertaining whether current properties, or empty properties, could be converted into HMO's.

    Only then will they be able to determine whether they have enough suitable properties to deal with the increase in the number of single under 35's who are in receipt of Housing Benefit only being able to afford to rent shared rooms (due to the recent change in the Shared Accommodation Rate), together with lower paid workers within London, who are also only able to afford the lowest rents available.

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  • Rick Campbell

    A small step in the right direction, apparently.

    I don't recall many 'good news stories' in relation to housing in London, it's usually all doom and gloom.

    Some 25 years ago, I visited a friend who lived in a converted house in London (in the West End) -- it had cost over £250k and that was about the price of a 4 bed house (big gardens) in a plush part of the area where I live. Such houses are in the £1.5m plus bracket now, I dread to think what London prices are.

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