Council to lure staff with housing offer

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The Independent Online

Teachers and social workers are to be offered new homes and cut-price mortgages under plans to persuade them to work in one of Britain's most deprived boroughs.

Newham Council in east London is planning to reserve homes with two bedrooms for their staff, under a deal with property developers.

Graham Lane, the chairman of the council's education committee, said subsidised mortgages and part-buy-part-rent schemes were also being considered, to attract newly qualified staff.

The "key staff" the council hopes to target will be housed in a development that will be built on the site of a former old people's home in the borough.

Newham pays teachers £1,000 a year more than neighbouring boroughs and offers"golden hellos" of a month's extra pay. A pilot scheme of performance bonuses has also been introduced to dissuadeteachers from leaving schools in the borough's education action zone. Last year it led to a 28 per cent drop in teachers leaving schools in an area where high staff turnover can seriously threaten standards.

Mr Lane said: "Newham is the cheapest borough in London for houses, but prices have leapt up and a two-bedroom house still costs around £85,000. That's too much for a teacher who cannot afford to pay £800a month for their mortgage.

"We have a problem recruiting and retaining staff at the moment because when they want to buy a house they tend to leave London. We have looked at renting, but we would like them to buy," he said.

The scheme is part of Newham Council's "regeneration package" aimed at exploring ways of linking houses to jobs, Mr Lane said.