12/03/2021 00:05 GMT

London's Key Workers To Be Given Priority For Affordable Housing

NHS staff, firefighters, transport workers and teachers will be first in the queue for thousands of new homes being built across the capital.

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Maria Sole, 4, dressed in a small nurses outfit holds up a rainbow drawing with the words 'Thank You'

Key workers will be first in the queue for thousands of new homes being built across London, the mayor of London has said.

NHS staff, police officers, firefighters, transport workers and teachers will be given priority access to buy or rent homes below market rates.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said recognising the “service and sacrifice” would allow key workers to “put down roots” and was the “very least they deserve”.

He will work with trade unions, emergency services and local authorities to create the list of essential London workers, including nurses and other NHS staff as well as police officers, transport workers, firefighters and teachers.

Planning guidance will be strengthened to allow boroughs to use the list to allow people in these occupations to be given priority access to buy or rent homes.

Key workers are unable to afford most of the capital’s homes sold on the open market. The median average price of a flat in London is £426,000 – more than 12 times the annual wage for a teacher and more than 13 times a nurse’s salary.

The news comes as part of a wider consultation on the role of intermediate housing in London in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Intermediate housing is defined as affordable housing for people who are unlikely to access homes at social rent levels, but who are also unable to afford to buy or rent a suitable home on the open market.

Increasing the amount of intermediate housing would be essential to allow these workers a chance of affording their home, which was the “very least they deserve”, said Khan.

The mayor 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.

“I want all London key workers to have a safe and secure home that they can afford. We can never thank them enough for their service over the last year, but by helping them buy or rent a home below the market rate we can help them to put down roots, and ensure they can become part of the communities they serve.”