Getting a foot on the housing ladder

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Getting a foot on the housing ladderOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. High house prices in the SouthEast are leading to a staffing crisis for employees. Mike Broad looks at whatis being done to alleviate the problemThe Berkshire town of Readingis facing severe key worker shortages. Few public sector staff can afford the£120,000 or more needed to purchase a three-bed semi-detached home there andmany services are approaching a staffing crisis.The Berkshire Fire and RescueBrigade is having to employ firefighters who live in Durham, Merseyside andNorfolk – and a third of its staff live outside the area. Public transport in the regionis close to collapse, with local bus companies struggling to recruit enoughdrivers, said Joyce Markham, former chief executive of Reading Borough Council,at a recent conference on key workers.Staff turnover among teachersin Reading is running at 23 per cent and in social work and occupationaltherapy it stands at 45 per cent. Applications for these posts are so few that50 per cent of job vacancies have had to be re-advertised at a cost of £2,000 atime. A staffing catastrophe islooming unless the Government acts quickly to support key workers, warnsMarkham.Her view is supported by astudy by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published earlier this month. It warnsthat crippling staff shortages in the public sector are unavoidable as thecurrent rate of housebuilding stands, and argues that there will be a propertyshortage of more than one million homes by 2022 if the building rate does notincrease.But it is not only localgovernment and Reading that is affected – businesses and services across theSouth East are being damaged by spiralling property prices.Lord Best, report author anddirector of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says: “This shocking statisticshows why the time has come for policymakers to recognise that a plentifulsupply of new and affordable homes is of the greatest importance for thenation’s future health and prosperity.”While the Government haslaunched a number of housebuilding initiatives to promote the construction ofaffordable homes (see box, right), many employers doubt whether these aresufficient to head off the impending crisis.And with an increasing numberof employers starting to suffer from high staff turnover, skills shortages andsoaring recruitment costs, some employers are starting to take the initiativethemselves.The NHS is looking forsolutions to the affordable housing crisis. John Yates, housing co-ordinator ofNHS Estates, says that in London alone the NHS needs to recruit another 7,000 nurses,but the process is being undermined by high housing costs. NHS staff can onlyafford to spend between 25-35 per cent of their disposable income on housing. Initiatives include making morethan 2,800 new units in London available for staff, which are being rented atrates up to 40 per cent lower than the market value. Staff hotels are alsobeing developed close to hospitals. One is currently being trialled in theBarbican, London, and two more are being developed at Great Ormond Street andin Oxford. The projects are supported by the Government’s £250m Starter HomeInitiative for key workers. Ian Young, director of HR atHammersmith Hospital NHS Trust, says that affordable housing for its 1,900employees is a key part of its recruitment policy. He is considering the use ofthe newly launched LiveIn Quarters – portable flat-pack homes that can beassembled on disused land. Developed by the Peabody Trust and the LondonDevelopment Agency, the units are likely to cost £70 a week to rent or £65,000to buy. “They are something we are looking at. Most importantly, it gets staffonto the housing ladder and that is the key in London,” says Young.The trust is also building arange of purpose-built housing as part of its drive to attract and help staff,particularly those from abroad. Young has targeted overseas to help reducestaffing shortages and recruited 189 last year. Private-sector employers arealso helping staff meet housing and transport costs. To improve its recruitmentand retention, London bus companyGo-Ahead provides new staff with subsidised accommodation.Passenger numbers in thecapital are increasing and the company has recruited aggressively for busdrivers from all over the UK to meet the demand – it now boasts 3,200 drivers.To lower the hurdle of highaccommodation costs in London, the company offers new staff rentedaccommodation at half the market rate for three months. The company rents 50houses for staff with between three and six people occupying each. Suchmeasures have helped lower the company’s staff turnover rate from 45 per centto less than 25 per cent. John Traynor, operationsdirector of Go-Ahead London, says: “If you earn between £18,000 and £20,000 inLondon it is very difficult to get on the property ladder and we have to workout how we are going to get round it.”Traynor is also lobbying to getbus drivers recognised as key workers – the government has focused its attention on nurses, teachers and policefor the Starter Homes Initiative. “Planning regulations for new housing developments state that 35to 50 per cent of the accommodation must be for affordable housing. We wantthis affordable housing to be available to bus drivers, so we’re trying to gaininfluence with developers, house builders and local government,” says Traynor.He adds: “The NHS is two yearsfurther down the line on where I would like us to be – its staff hotels are nowoffering accommodation to other key workers, such as police officers, and Iwould like bus drivers to be considered too.”IT firm Logica has taken thesubsidy of staff housing costs a step further. It either helps staff save for adeposit for a house, or contributes to mortgage repayments.Glenn Connell, director ofcompensation and benefits at Logica, says the company offers it as an alternativeto its contributory pension scheme. “We use it as a recruitment and retentiontool for young graduates who are on relatively low pay at the start of theircareers,” he says.In its house purchase plan,Logica matches staff contributions to a two-year savings scheme towards adeposit. If the staff member has already bought a house, they can apply to jointhe mortgage subsidy scheme where Logica contributes to mortgage repayments forup to six years.The schemes have beensuccessful, with a 12 per cent take-up among its 4,500 UK staff. “We help themget their deposit together, or provide cash towards high mortgage repayments inthe early years,” says Connell. “We are assuming that because they are younggraduates, they will be able to make up the loss in pension contributions astheir career develops.”Markham, former chief executiveof Reading Borough Council and new head of Harrow Borough Council, wants theGovernment to enable public-sector employers to play a bigger financial role insecuring accommodation for its staff.She wants local authorities tobe able to arrange and provide affordable mortgages on the behalf of theirstaff. “Employers need to realise thatif they don’t put anything back in, then they may not have cleaners orelectricians,” she says.A report released by the thinktank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), entitled Squeezed Out, alsocalls for both private and public-sector employers to help staff finance theirhomes in expensive areas to reduce spiralling skills shortages. It advocateswage additions, interest free loans and help with deposits.This is not solely a key workercrisis. Organisations in the South East that employ staff who cannot afford tobuy a house and earn too much to qualify for social rented housing will have tobecome increasingly sympathetic to their employees’ predicament.More private-sector employersare going to have to start exploring accommodation solutions for their lowerpaid staff because, if they don’t, they could be left with severe skillsshortages – particularly among support staff.As London mayor Ken Livingstoneputs it: “Frankly, I think everyone is a key worker.”Government measures totackle the housing shortage● The Starter HomeInitiative aims to help 10,000 key workers buy homes by 2004 in areas wherehigh prices are preventing them from living near the communities they serve. Itmakes equity loans, interest free loans and shared ownership arrangementsavailable to key workers who want to buy houses. Nurses, teachers, police,social workers, firefighters and transport workers qualify.● London Mayor KenLivingstone (below left) has set high targets for the amount of affordablehousing new developments must include. Socially affordable housing shouldrepresent 35 per cent of new housing schemes and key worker housing should makeup a further 15 per cent. The London boroughs of Ealing, Lambeth, Hounslow andBrent have all committed themselves to the 50 per cent affordable housingtarget.● Earlier this month,transport and local government secretary Stephen Byers (below right) pressedahead with changes to planning laws to increase the supply of low-costaffordable homes by allowing local authorities to require affordable housing tobe included in proposed commercial developments.● In a recent speech tohousing experts, planning minister Lord Falconer said there was a clear andpressing need to tackle the housing crisis via higherdensity housing,redevelopments of redundant public-sector buildings and possibly building ongreenfield sites.Putting a price on living inLondonLondon weighting is currentlybeing reviewed for the first time since 1974. It started as an allowance in the1920s to bridge the gap between house prices and salaries. A review panel has been set upby the Greater London Authority, chaired by Bill Knight, former senior partnerof Simmons & Simmons. Francesca Okosi, president of the Society of ChiefPersonnel Officers, is acting as his deputy.The panel is trying to identifya ‘London premium’ that should be paid to staff and hopes to report to theGreater London Assembly in July. It will not set a specific figure for Londonweighting, but will show the pay and costs differences between positions inLondon and elsewhere.A set weighting isinappropriate because pay setting is more decentralised and complicated than inthe past, explains Knight, with employers combating costs in the capital indifferent ways, includingrecruitment and retention payments, market supplements, broad banding, Londonscales and differentials.“Many people say they can nolonger afford to live in the capital and this is a big problem affectingrecruitment and retention,” says Knight.“We want our report togenuinely be useful to decision- makers. If we do our job properly, our reportshould help those who negotiate pay to set a fair London premium.”In a recent submission to thepanel, the Public and Commercial Services Union called for all 86,000 civilservants working in London to be deemed “essential workers” and given asubstantial pay supplement to meet the high cost of living in the capital.Their allowances vary from£1,000 to £4,225 depending on skills shortages, but these have barely increasedsince London weighting for civil servants was abolished back in 1994.If you would like tocontribute to the review contact mailto:[email protected]last_img read more

Whigham gets another shot at Florida State after life-threatening injury in Tallahassee last season

first_img Published on October 10, 2014 at 1:12 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ Julian Whigham has been preparing for this moment for 11 months. The last time the Syracuse cornerback took the field against Florida State, he left it on a stretcher with his own blood staining the Seminoles’ end zone. A game of football in front of family and friends near his West Palm Beach, Florida home had turned into a life or death situation.“That injury, that down time and all that thinking, you find a lot of things to go after,” Whigham said. “Over the spring and during the summer, it was like, ‘Why can’t I be the best?’… Being cut short last year was difficult. It hurt, because I love those platforms.”On Saturday at noon, a fully healthy Whigham will get a chance to take on No. 1 Florida State (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) almost a year after suffering a season-ending injury on the Seminoles’ field.Late in the first quarter of what would end up being a 59-3 Syracuse loss at FSU on Nov. 16 last season, Whigham hit the ground after Florida State’s Rashad Greene caught a touchdown pass. At first, Whigham had thought the wind had just been knocked out of him. Then he got a choking feeling in his throat and he started vomiting blood. Acid came up as well and he couldn’t breathe. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the ambulance ride, he cried and feared for his life. Around him, paramedics were working on him, looking at him, telling him he’d be all right. Old scar tissue had ripped in his esophagus where he had surgery to deal with a rare disorder called Achalasia, which makes it hard for food to move to the stomach. Once Whigham got to the hospital, he was stabilized. He wanted to make it back in time for SU’s bowl game on Dec. 27, but that was unrealistic. Instead, he built up his strength, recovered and prepared. He entered the 2014 season boasting that he wanted to be the best in the ACC. And while he admits that goal hasn’t been achieved, he believes it’s still attainable.“Not being able to play last year was that big motivation for being one of the best in the ACC this year,” Whigham said. “I love top competition, like Florida State or Clemson, and I want to play as well as I can for these types of games.”Whigham’s issues with his esophagus started after his sophomore year at Dwyer (Florida) High School. He went from a player Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels said could have been an All-American safety to one that had trouble keeping his weight above 150 pounds.His surgery forced him to lay off solid foods. While his friends went out for wings after practice, he’d be on a smoothie and ice cream diet. In his junior season, he had lost 20 pounds, was frail and couldn’t practice with the energy he’d once had, Daniels said.“I don’t think he wanted anyone to know what was going on with him,” Daniels said. “I had to find out from (his mother) exactly what was going on. Julian wasn’t forthcoming with any of it, he didn’t make excuses or anything. He went out and played.”His senior season was a better one. He gained back his strength and his abilities followed suit. And in order to play this current season, he had to go through a similar process. During spring practices, SU defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said Whigham wasn’t hitting as hard. It was a process to get back that took longer than Whigham wanted, but one he was determined to make fully.“His diligence to work hard and get through an injury is admirable,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said.It was against Florida State last year where a season went off the rails and a once-closed wound was reopened.This week Whigham posted the Florida State grade sheet on his board and looks at it every time he gets up in the morning — it’s motivating him to want to do more. He’s no longer recovering. He’s preparing.“I need to get better, I need to get better, work on technique, work on something,” Whigham said. “It’s really pushed me to get to where I’m at and then pushed me to keep getting better.“I expect to play the whole game.” Commentslast_img read more