Friday, April 20, 2007

Affordable housing and "Key Workers"

The Financial Times this week criticised the government's investment of resources in housing to help a few thousand "Key Workers":

For the price of the average London home, you could get a brand new Ferrari 599 with enough left over for a passable second-hand yacht. For nurses and police officers in London and other parts of Britain - so called "key workers" - stratospheric house prices are a problem. Government housing subsidies only make the problem worse: if houses are to be affordable, the only answer is to build a lot more of them.

I share this sentiment.

I must say that I also have a problem with the whole concept of "Key Workers" - what about the rest of us? Teachers, nurses and other front line public sector workers are vital (and for a long time they had worse pay than other similarly qualified professionals), but I'm not convinced that non-Key Workers should be treated less favourably in the housing market.

If those deemed to be "Key workers" are leaving their professions because they can't afford to buy in London and other high demand, wouldn't it be better to pay them more? And if necessary, have local pay settlements that reflect local conditions?

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