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Key workers struggle to find affordable rent in London

Key workers struggle to find affordable rent in London
Anna Sagar
Written By:
Anna Sagar

According to Generation Rent, which analysed 15 key and essential worker roles across education, healthcare, social care, construction, retail, commerce, and hospitality, the average income needed across these professions to cover rent on a median one-bed property was around 74%.

Digging into different professions, a teaching assistant would need 106% of their income to cover such a property, followed by 100% for a kitchen assistant and 97% for a cleaner and a sales assistant.

At the other end of the scale, a secondary school teacher would need to spend 46% of their income to cover rent, going up to 49% for a primary school teacher and 56% for a community nurse.

A home is considered affordable if it costs 30% or less of your income.


Average income to cover median one-bedroom rent
  • 106% of teaching assistants’ incomes
  • 100% of kitchen assistants’ incomes
  • 97% of cleaners’ incomes
  • 97% of sales assistants’ incomes
  • 91% of pharmacy assistants’ incomes
  • 90% of receptionists’ incomes
  • 86% of hairdressers’ incomes
  • 82% of care workers’ incomes
  • 76% of chefs’ incomes
  • 66% of painters and decorators’ incomes
  • 63% of bus drivers’ incomes
  • 56% of community nurses’ incomes
  • 49% of primary teachers’ incomes
  • 46% of secondary teachers’ incomes

Source: Generation Rent


The report added that not one of Greater London’s 32 boroughs was affordable for bus drivers, care workers, chefs, cleaners, community nurses, hairdressers, hospital porters, kitchen assistants, painters and decorators, pharmacy assistants, receptionists, sales assistants or teaching assistants.

Generation Rent is calling on London mayoral candidates to “demand powers to control rents and commit to building many more social homes in the capital if they win in May”.

Generation Rent’s chief executive Ben Twomey said: “Just a few years ago, we were clapping on our doorsteps every week for key workers. Now they risk being driven out of our city because of soaring rents.

“For communities to survive, local people must be able to stay healthy, receive an education, find a safe home to live in and purchase basic goods. But, if those working in vital jobs cannot afford to live in the area, everyone loses out.”

He added: “The current cost-of-renting crisis is devastating London’s communities. It is vital that England’s metro mayors have the power to slam the brakes on local rents and give our key workers the breathing space they need to live and work in their community.

“It is also vital that the Mayor and the Government build more affordable homes in the capital and increase how much social housing is available.”

This comes after a report last year that nearly a third of key workers had been turned down for a mortgage.