News

Housing crisis ‘pushing public sector workers out of London’

Sadiq Khan issues warning about impact of rising housing costs and renews appeal for government help, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan has warned that the capital’s housing crisis is causing vital public sector workers – like nurses, teachers and police constables – to quit their roles in favour of better paid work.

A new analysis by City Hall has found that a typical public sector worker in London spends a much higher proportion of their salary on mortgage or rent costs than an equivalent worker outside the capital.

The mayor said the report gave further weight to his request that ministers give London £4.9billion per year to increase the city’s affordable housing – and that they empower him to freeze rents.

Both the Met Police and London’s NHS services have warned of recruitment issues. Data from NHS Digital last year revealed that London is suffering the worst NHS staffing crisis in England, as vacancies for nurses are higher in the capital than any other region.

City Hall’s data also shows that since 2016, median annual public sector pay in London has grown at a slower rate (14.9%) than the rest of the UK (15.5%) and London’s private sector (17.4%).


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According to the research, an entry-level police constable in London would this year spend more than half their gross salary renting a one-bedroom flat in Greenwich, where residents’ median incomes resemble the London median. But a constable starting their career in West Suffolk – an area resembling the UK median – is meanwhile estimated to spend 38% of their income renting an identical flat, despite earning less than their London counterpart.

Khan said: “It’s not right that public sector workers in London, who provide an invaluable service to us all, are faced with stagnant wages and are having to spend even more of their hard-earned money on housing.

“Unless the government acts now and provides the £4.9bn a year required to deliver the genuinely affordable housing the capital needs, I fear talented people will not only continue to leave the public sector but avoid joining it in the first place.”

The government has been approached for comment.

Between 2016 and 2023, ministers provided City Hall with £4.8bn in funding, which produced 116,000 new affordable homes. A second tranche of funding, worth £4bn, is expected to deliver tens of thousands more by 2026.

A government spokesperson rejected the mayor’s call for rent controls earlier this summer, saying they “lead to declining standards, a lack of investment and may encourage illegal subletting”.


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