Blog: For public service workers, London’s housing situation is bleak

The housing crisis is one of the greatest problems – and challenges – that our country faces. For too long, not enough homes have been built. As a result, house prices in many parts of the country have risen dramatically, often to levels which make housing completely unaffordable for those who provide our vital public services.

In London, the situation is particularly bleak – and the capital now risks an exodus of public service workers as housing costsrise and options disappear. That’s the key finding from a report released by UNISON this week, which shines a light on the real housing experiences faced by staff in schools, hospitals and local authorities across the capital.

Over 1,200 UNISON members living and working in London completed our survey. They told us that 63% of them now spend more than 30% of their income on housing – that rises to 82% for private renters. Understandably, that means 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%) told UNISON that housing costs were making them look elsewhere to live and work.

Amongst health workers trapped in the private rental sector, that rises to 87%.

Public services are already facing a recruitment and retention crisis – and the government’s failure to tackle the housing crisis is exacerbating an already difficult situation.

Public services are critical to the London economy. Good transport and housing, quality parks and open spaces, a clean environment, excellent schools, good health facilities and a city that is safe are all important to Londoners. Tackling the housing crisis won’t just remove the stress and anxiety this creates for public service employees, it’ll help all those who need better, more affordable housing.

And it’ll help public service employers recruit and retain staff – ensuring that we receive the quality public services that we all deserve.