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RCN calls for affordable housing for nurses

Key workers face 20% rent increase in south London 

The RCN has called for more affordable accommodation for nurses as key workers in a south London housing block face a 20% rent hike.

Samuel Jones Court in Peckham, comprising 90 flats, was built six years ago for key workers on lower wages, such as nurses.

However, residents have been told to agree to the rent rise – which amounts to an extra £150 a month for a one-bedroom flat – or leave within two months.

Corrective measure

L&Q housing association, which manages the site, says the sharp increase is necessary to balance out past rises that were too low. The tenancies guarantee that residents will pay 20% less rent than the current market rate, but a recent review found that some have been paying as much as 40% less.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: ‘The cost of living is contributing to the health recruitment crisis in London. Years of below-inflation pay deals for NHS staff mean that buying in the capital is now beyond the reach of many.

'The government and the mayor need to look at what more they can do to support key workers living in private rented housing, so that nursing staff have the security to live and settle here in the numbers needed.’

Ring-fenced properties

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan this week promised to discuss with the health service whether a proportion of homes on NHS land can be reserved for health service workers.

In May, an RCN London survey revealed that 40% of nurses plan to leave the capital in the next five years, many because they cannot afford to stay. RCN congress in June heard that nurses' careers and health were being put at risk by long commutes.

An L&Q spokesperson said: ‘While many residents have renewed their tenancies with us without issue, we do understand that this may prove more difficult to manage for others. We will do everything we can to help those affected as well as assisting them to find cheaper rents if available elsewhere.’

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