As London business reels from the Brexit vote and economic forecasts show uncertain times ahead, experts have rushed to predict the knock-on effects for London’s housing market.  The speculated price drops in London would certainly be welcomed by many, but boosting supply still remains the true challenge. Only increasing the build of new homes to fifty thousand per year by 2020 will reach the level needed for London to remain the competitive, diverse and creative city we know and love.  So despite the volatility around us, the need is clearer than ever for Londoners and business alike.  With a new mayoral team in place and commitment to tackling the housing crisis renewed, we must now build more homes, and fast.

Today’s report, London employers and assistance to employees with housing, takes this demand one step further.  While the Fifty Thousand Homes campaign has amplified the voices of business leaders in the Capital to speak loudly and powerfully on the business case for solving the housing crisis, we now turn inward to assess our own role as employers.  What can and should employers be doing to mitigate the impacts of the housing crisis on staff?  And could large employers even hold the key to increasing supply in new, innovative ways?

The survey of London businesses begins with an alarming tale; 84% of respondents confirm the housing crisis poses a real risk to economic competitiveness in the capital, with one in five stating concern is so great, they are contemplating leaving London altogether.  Yet this is only half the story.  We were both heartened and surprised by the number of employers (48%) already taking steps to soften the blows of rising housing costs on staff.  And the rays of light emerging from the need to rise to the challenge are also striking.  Companies such as Legal and General, KPMG, Starbucks and Deloitte are now pioneering new models for increasing the supply of homes, as well as offering staff access to preferential mortgages and lower rents. By no means should we see these schemes as solutions to the housing crisis.  However, they do represent a very high potential for new, and innovative partnerships to boost housing supply, and that is a very exciting starting point.

This report is a fast snapshot of the views of employers and a handful of known schemes initiated to tackle housing costs and increase supply.   But it marks the start of a far more detailed enquiry into the role of London’s employers.  Led by Grant Thornton for Fifty Thousand Homes, over the coming months we will be exploring thoroughly what kind of action could, and should employers be taking to help mitigate rising housing pressure on staff.  We welcome any contributions, evidence or opinion from campaign members and interested business’.  Please get in touch with me – Mora McLagan at mmclagan@londonfirst.co.uk for more information.