• Thomas Marsh

Solving the housing crisis for keyworkers & city dwellers with remote working

Urban UK cities like London are in a housing crisis.

The demand for cities has become unsustainable with limited land supply. This has caused house prices to displace those most in need, our key workers, over a prolonged period.

This was evident before COVID-19 struck the UK in March 2020, but the infectious disease has shone a solution on the housing crisis problem.

Yes, keyworkers cant remote work, but 56% of us have a job where at least some of what they do could be done remotely

The facts

Up until now, housing delivery has focused on those in the direst need or those on low income who need extra support.

According to the latest stats, one quarter of all London’s housing is social housing. Whilst homes at social rent levels in London accounted for 99% of affordable homes owned by local authority in the city.

But little thought has been given to the needs and wants of our key workers, upon whom we rely on (and have heavily relied upon over the past 11 months).

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, there are 7.1 million adults across the UK who hold keyworker occupations, 18% of which live in London.

It’s well-known that our keyworkers have to work long hours, whilst enduring unaffordable, poor-quality accommodation and long commutes all of which puts a strain on urban employment, productivity and their well-being.

As present, 54% of front-line ‘blue light’ personnel live outside Greater London, often due to the capital’s high cost of living. And according to emergency service representatives, this can impact upon stress levels, recruitment, and retention as well as the city’s resilience.

One third (33%) of London firms believe the lack of affordable housing to rent or own local to their place of work was affecting employee productivity and punctuality.

And 41% of those struggling with costs in London would consider relocating and taking a job in another city.

Something needs to change

Majority of intermediate and family housing is demanded by first-time buyers who work in the city on considerably more money thank key workers setting the entry level for rent and house prices higher.

This would provide a faster opportunity to solve the high cost of living in Cities (especially London) in comparison to the alternative where affordable housing development targets are never hit.

A Greater London Authority report on 2022-2032 London Affordable Homes Programme showed that 325,000 new affordable homes (32,500 a year) would need to be built, a split of 70 per cent social rent, 20 per cent shared ownership, and 10 per cent intermediate rent.

In contrasts, London’s 2016-22 Affordable Homes Programme, is set to deliver around 16,600 affordable homes per year on average. That is double a programme we are struggling to complete.

The subsidy gap between the cost of building 325,000 affordable homes is £74.5 billion (£7.5 billion a year). This break back to £284,000 per social rent home and £32,000 per shared ownership home

A National Housing Federation report thought we will require an average of £14.6bn in capital grant from Government each year to solve the housing crises

But only 30% of this programme will help key workers and first time buyers.

We need to help our heroes

We cannot develop our way out of the housing crisis. Cost of land and density of cities has already become too high making it near impossible to support affordable housing for key workers on the few remaining brownfield site.

The solution? Now we have an opportunity to utilise remote working to incentivise business and young professionals, who can do so, to rent or buy outside of our cities.

There would be less demand for intermediate rent, help to buy and shared ownership as well as for family accommodation turned shared accommodation (spareroom).

This would reduce the cost of living and house prices for key workers allowing them to work and live-in close proximity.


Cities are creating a working to survive mentality for all. Majority of city dwellers under 35 are living pay check to pay check with limited outdoor activities. Key workers are naturally feeling the pinch the most with their 1% salary increases.

If we don’t take this opportunity to incentivise remote working across the UK, we will force the wrong and most important employees out of the city who have no opportunity to work alternatively and what a catastrophe that would be.

Our solution is to connect a remote worker community to tiny homes / cabins in adventurous locations. This can provide a sustainable lifestyle for remote workers who want to explore, hike mountains, surf the seas, work productively, and belong in a community.

Whilst giving key workers priority to have affordable, quality space near their work.

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