London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
July 1, 2015
Question By: 
James Cleverly
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Harvey McGrath, Deputy Chair of the LEP, and Cathy Walsh OBE, Further Education Representative of the LEP

Question

James Cleverly AM MP:  Thank you, Madam Chair.  Prompted by Mr Knight, you mentioned more corporate involvement in the housing market and the provision of housing specifically for employees.  Across the country, there are some significant examples where business owners have taken a very direct role in the provision of housing.  I am thinking of Port Sunlight, Bournville, etc, where those - for want of a better word - early corporate entities recognised that they had a vested interest in the provision of good quality, local housing for the people working in their businesses.

You mentioned the utilisation of pension funds.  Could you see other vehicles whereby the businesses over there, these glass-and-steel monoliths, might take a much more direct role in ensuring that particularly their support staff, who are not necessarily on the bigger salaries, are able to live close enough that they can get to work in a reasonable length of time and are able to house themselves at a reasonable cost?  It is in their direct interest for those people to be able to do so.

Answer

Answer for London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
Harvey McGrath, Deputy Chair of the LEP, and Cathy Walsh OBE, Further Education Representative of the LEP

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  I would say that there are a number of conversations going on about exactly that.  I am not aware of any of the occupants of the glass towers across the water having done that.  The fact that it is becoming a critical business issue is leading to people thinking about more creative solutions.  There is a role here for business in the private sector, perhaps alongside third‑sector organisations, to marry up private capital with delivery expertise that seeks to address this issue.

There are some encouraging signs that that is happening.  For example, it is not in this case about back-office staff narrowly, but Land Securities is joint-venturing with Golden Lane Housing, which is a subsidiary of Mencap, to put together a fund to support the provision of housing for people with disabilities who would otherwise not find appropriate provision.  Unlocking that kind of solution will permit some of the people who occupy the glass towers across the way to allocate funds into those structures to provide the third leg of a solution.

James Cleverly AM MP:  Thank you.  This is not within your explicit remit or the explicit remit of your organisation, but would it not be fair to say that there is perhaps even a moral imperative?  In the same way that many people across the political spectrum are critical of governments subsidising low wages and would prefer, through things like the London Living Wage, for employers to pay salaries that enable people to live in this city, there is a moral imperative for the organisations that benefit from people living in housing subsidised by the general taxpayer to take a much more direct role in providing or helping to provide the houses for the people whom they rely on to make their very significant profits.

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  You are right.  It is not really within the remit of the LEP.  It is quite a challenging proposition, but it is a good question to ask.

James Cleverly AM MP:  Thank you.