At a summit of business leaders at White City Place today, Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive, West London Business has called on the Government to look at a tax incentive scheme for employers ready to help address the housing crisis. Over a century on from Bournville and Saltaire villages being built by industrialists needing housing for their staff, the summit heard case studies from Starbucks, Heathrow, Deloitte and Imperial College London who are leaning into today’s crisis. However, there is little evidence yet of a larger movement amongst employers. In London 250,000 families live in overcrowded conditions; and in West London only 6,000 new homes are being built each year when 16,000 new homes are needed.
Heathrow and Starbucks – Both firms have set-up Rental Deposit Loan Schemes; interest-free loans to help staff pay rental deposits when they are moving into a new home.
Deloitte – Graduate intake has access to housing at East Village as part of an initiative with Get Living London. The offer gives graduates joining Deloitte the opportunity to choose between newly furnished two or three-bedroom apartments with exemption from credit checks and the benefit of Get Living London’s no fees approach. Graduates receive two weeks’ rent free and the ability to reserve a property up to six weeks in advance.
Imperial College London – The new residential tower on the White City Campus will provide 192 new homes, including 59 earmarked for Imperial key workers at below market rent.
Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive, West London Business said:
“In the US we are seeing local government consider introducing levies to establish new funds for house building. This is not a route we want to go down. Instead we see the opportunity for the Government to incentivise many more employers to follow the lead of Starbucks, Heathrow, Deloitte and Imperial College London. These employers have delivered great innovations from Rental Deposit Loan Schemes to securing homes for graduates to partnerships with developers for key worker housing.
“Unfortunately these interventions are way out of scope of what most employers see as their core responsibilities today and hence we are not seeing them scaled up. A very simple motivator might be to allow employers to recover the ‘research and development’ costs involved in setting up such social value schemes through the existing R & D tax relief scheme. This could inspire a new generation of Bournville and Saltaire villages inside the M25.
“For many London workers, particularly the young, the situation remains desperate. Average house prices in West London are now £445k. Across London 250,000 families are living in overcrowded conditions. We can’t let this continue – it is an issue of social justice and for employers a key concern ensuring that their staff are able to perform at work without worrying about where they will live.”