Southwark Council has approved a pilot that offers slashed rents to key workers in the borough.

From April 2020, councils have new powers to rent homes to key workers at intermediate rents through their housing revenue account.

Southwark approved the new powers at a cabinet meeting via video conference call on Tuesday, April 7, as well as plans for a 36 studio pilot at Churchyard Row in Elephant and Castle.

Key workers will pay 50 per cent of market rent, saving £8,300 per year compared to the private market, according to the report.

In a foreword, cabinet member for housing management and modernisation, Councillor Kieron Williams said keyworkers often cannot afford high rent.

“Nurses, social workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters in Southwark provide a crucial service to our communities and yet very often cannot afford to enter the private rented sector as low and middle income earners.

“This cannot be right and so Southwark is dedicated to fixing this broken system to look after the public sector workers who look after us.

“Southwark will be one of the first boroughs to utilise new government regulation, coming in to force in April, which will allow us to set aside council properties for keyworkers,” he said.

He added that the scheme will work as a “stepping-stone to save for a larger home of their own in future”.

“These homes will be genuinely affordable, with rents set at 50 per cent of the local market rate.

“This will save the average tenant over £8,300 per year compared to the private market,” he said.

The council will offer flexible tenancies of three years.

A date for the pilot’s launch is yet to be set as over the next few months, because of the coronavirus outbreak, the flats are being used by people who were reliant on shared facilities in their previous accommodation.

Presenting the report to cabinet, Cllr Williams said: “This is a really important new step for us as a council.

“It’s a really important step in meeting a need in the borough that is little met and particularly at a time like this when we’re all in the country so reliant on key workers.

“Making sure people can afford to live in our borough for the long-term is incredibly important.

“In the immediate short-term for the next few months we will be using these homes to help house some people who had shared facilities in their current accommodation.

“But over the long-term we will move to making them key worker housing for medical, teaching and social work professionals.”