Luke Barras-Hill 13 January 2012

Westminster to pilot shared housing scheme

Workers pivotal to the West End’s economy are to benefit from a new council affordable housing scheme, launched today, to counteract the rising costs of renting in the capital.

The Fair Share Housing Scheme, which will initially focus on 25 units in the West End, will hope to aid low-wage workers not prioritised for social housing by offering shared affordable rent accommodation in selected areas.

Properties would be let on an assured short hold basis, with all sharing tenants signing either a joint agreement for a single tenancy or individual contracts.

It is suggested that a maximum income of £30,000 before tax could be the marker for those wishing to join the scheme.

Government changes to the welfare system this month will mean single people under the age of 35 renting one-bedroom self-contained properties will no longer receive housing benefit.

Cllr Jonathan Glanz, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for housing and corporate property said: ‘With recent changes to housing benefits for single occupants and with living and transport costs increasing, local authorities must come up with alternative ways to accommodate those on a London living wage who keep our local economies thriving.

Welcoming the move, housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘London’s economy will only continue to grow if working people are not priced out of the rental market.

‘I welcome Westminster’s innovative thinking and hope that other councils will use the greater freedoms we’re giving them to think about how to help local workers live close to their work.’

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