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Policy Exchange urges government to revamp key worker programme

Words: Huw Morris
Affordable housing / Shutterstock_509223637

The government should revitalise the key worker housing initiative, according to a think tank.

The Policy Exchange is demanding radical reforms including prioritising affordable housing schemes with a significant proportion of key worker homes when allocating grant funding.

Public sector landowners should also be encouraged to build affordable homes reserved for local key workers on surplus land and property.

The think tank calls on the government to update the eligibility criteria for key workers. Such a programme would enable “more of the most valued and important frontline public sector workers” like police officers, teachers, NHS staff and firefighters to live in or near the communities they serve.

It warned that many key workers face acute affordability challenges that force them to commute from “ever further away”, particularly in the rental sector and particularly in London and the South East. As part of a revitalised programme, extra housing support should be provided in and around London.

The Policy Exchange said police officers are a special case among essential public sector workers, as they work antisocial hours and move around more.

Previous research by the think tank revealed that housing is a particular issue for Metropolitan Police officers, with many choosing to move or leave the capital in search of more affordable homes. Housing support will be a vital part of achieving the force’s objective of recruiting 5,000 more officers within the next few years, it added.

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