Businesses might soon have to build homes for staff

Flooded House

The ever increasing cost of living in London has led one of the City's biggest employers to consider building its own housing for junior staff.

Deloitte has already helped younger staff joining the firm with securing rental accommodation because of the struggles of finding somewhere affordable to live in the capital. But now it has said it may even need to go a step further and work with developers to secure its own homes for staff within new developments.

The professional services firm initially launched a pilot project last autumn, securing rented homes within the former athletes village at Queen Elizabeth Park in a partnership with Get Living London. 40 graduates were exempted from credit checks and fees, could arrange the rental up to six weeks in advance and receive two weeks rent for free.

Now, the number of employees has more than doubled to 85. It's set to grow further with a new intake of graduates later this year and the firm is thinking of extending it even further.

"What it's led us to think about is whether we can expand it with other private rented sector (PRS) landlords and similar properties" said Deloitte partner James Ferguson.

That may be accommodating apprentices who join at 18 years who need support to move to the capital but also older employees who have been with the company longer. "The intention would be to expand it to everybody," said Ferguson.

While there is no current intention to build their own homes, there is down the road an opportunity to work with developers on building housing for staff on a grander scale, he believes.

"The likely outcome is that we partner with them," he said, citing the the rise of PRS developments in the capital as providing a new opportunity and a new market. Previously, working with typical buy-to-let private landlords on an individual basis would have been impossible and new developments were sold largely off-plan to individuals.

"I think it's early stages, but the response we've had from staff has been so positive, it does seem we are dealing with one of those key problems people have," said Ferguson.

"Employers must help" he added. "For the last five years, we've been talking about work life balance, and now that is how can we give them that lifestyle and ensure they have it.

"There are key worker schemes and social housing, but some grads don't have access to that. All sectors and all levels of employment need help."

The plan may solve a growing problem for Deloitte and other businesses, but should it really be up to them?

"Clearly, 10 years ago, there was more property available," said Ferguson. But, he puts this down to the capital being a victim of its own success.

"It comes down to the success of London as a global centre for finance and professional services. It does push up the costs, but the next issue might be transport next."

Full story: Businesses might soon have to build homes for staff: City A.M.

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