Thoughts & Insights

London housing crisis: how can employers help?

Grant Thornton has today joined forces with London First, and its Fifty Thousand Homes campaign, to explore ways in which businesses and public sector organisations can work together to tackle London’s housing shortage

London has one of the most diverse and vibrant economies of any city in the world, drawing people from all across the globe. But with 50,000 homes a year needing to be built in London to the meet the demand, the shortage of housing is a growing concern for many employers as a threat to future business growth.

As part of delivering on our ambition to shape a vibrant economy, this morning [6 July] we officially launched our housing inquiry with a breakfast panel asking how employers can help. It was attended by Sacha Romanovitch, CEO, Grant Thornton, together with James Murray, on his first public speaking event as the new deputy mayor of housing.

We also launch with research, in partnership with London First, from our recent survey into what employers are doing, supplemented with case studies and current schemes in place. Read the full report: London employers and assistance to employees with housing.

What’s the problem?

The cost of buying has soared, average rents have increased by a fifth in the past five years and the number of people living in rented accommodation has doubled in the last 10 years.  Essentially, housing stock is not keeping up with the growth in London’s population.

And in the short term (up to 2018), the outcome of the EU referendum will almost certainly have a negative impact on both prices and numbers of transactions. There is a risk to the construction sector, which relies heavily on skilled workers from other EU countries. There is now a great opportunity to work together to find a solution.

Why do we need to tackle it?

The shortage of affordable housing is affecting London’s economy in several ways. If we solve the problem, there are gains to be made in increased productivity and job creation. Business owners will be able to attract and keep skilled workers, and crucially for the capital’s future, continue to see London as a great place to do business.

Improving the affordability and supply of housing in London could not only mean happier, more productive employees, and a boost to our economy, but better social integration, and a brighter, more vibrant future for our capital.

What are we doing?

At Grant Thornton, we are considering as a business what we can do and how we can help our employees. But the more we look at the problem, the more we realise that it can only be solved by working with others.

Thousands of businesses, public sector organisations and charities across the capital are grappling with the issue. That’s why we’ve launched an inquiry looking at how we can get the whole of London working together.

There are some fantastic examples of innovation in the market, particularly from some employers, and we will be looking to harness these, as well as develop new ideas. You can read more on this in our launch report: London employers and assistance to employees with housing.