WLB calls for housing initiative tax incentive

The chief executive of West London Business has called on Government for a new employer tax incentive to help tackle the housing crisis.

At a business leaders conference at White City Place today, Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive, West London Business 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 conference heard what Starbucks, Heathrow, Deloitte and Imperial College London are doing.

Both Heathrow and Starbucks 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 give their graduate intake 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 have built a new residential tower on their White City Campus which 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 ensuring that their staff are able to perform at work, with the worry of where they will live removed.”