NUT survey highlights the urgency for the new London Mayor to address affordable housing for teachers and children

7 March 2016

Ahead of the Mayoral elections, a survey by the National Union of Teachers of young teacher members in London (1) reveals that many are struggling to live and work in a city where the average monthly cost of renting a one-bed flat is now over £1,100 – and rising. The average monthly take-home pay of a newly qualified teacher is £1,600. Living in London is no longer a sustainable, long-term option for teachers.

Exorbitant housing costs are creating a teacher shortage crisis that will hit every school and college in London.

  • 60% of young teachers surveyed said that they could not see themselves still teaching in London in five years’ time.
  • Nearly two-thirds of responses (61%) specifically pointed to the cost of living in London as the reason that they would be leaving.

They said:

"Salaries are little more than they were seven years ago but rent has doubled.”

"Teaching, yes; in London, no. I just can’t afford to live here.”

Many young teachers have little expectation of getting on the property ladder.

  • 59% of teachers surveyed were having to rent privately.
  • 18% were living at home with their parents – more than those who were buying a property.

Young teachers are being forced into unsuitable housing, facing high rents and, sometimes, unscrupulous landlords:

"We are five people sharing a three bedroom flat. This is the only way we can keep the costs down.”

"Landlords frequently increase rent, forcing us to move, or they sell property and force eviction.”

"It’s noisy, horrible and with holes in the walls but it’s all that I can afford.”

The crisis in housing doesn’t just affect young teachers. Families are also being priced out of London, or being driven into unsuitable housing. Teachers tell of ‘disappearing children’ as parents are forced to relocate sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Ahead of the London elections on 5 May, the NUT calls on the next Mayor and London Assembly to:\

  • Advocate for rent controls and for more affordable housing in London, with investment for councils to build homes, so that parents and children are not priced out of their community.
  • Take urgent action to provide affordable housing to enable London schools to keep the teachers they need.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

"It cannot be rational to allow new teachers to be squeezed out of London, while at the same time, the city needs 100,000 extra school places before 2020. There is a huge need for teachers. This Government is consistently failing to recruit the numbers we need and too many of those we have are leaving. The next Mayor and London Assembly must urgently tackle housing costs, support the building of new schools, and not only value teachers but fight their corner. For too long, teachers have been underpaid and undervalued.”

Martin Powell-Davies, London Regional Secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said:

"Unaffordable housing in London is causing a great deal of distress and hardship for many families and individuals. It is resulting in people having to up-root and move miles away from their work places, schools and families. It is quite clear that if teachers cannot afford to live in London they will take their skills elsewhere. This is potentially a huge problem for the Capital. The NUT’s manifesto for the London elections urges the next Major and London Assembly to address this significant and growing problem. If they don’t there will be detrimental consequences for London’s children and young people’s education.”

Editor’s Note

1) This NUT survey of over 1,200 young teachers working in London was conducted in October and November 2015
2) The NUT’s London Manifesto: