Tower Hamlets Watch

1 in 5 Tower Hamlets Staff cannot afford Affordable Homes | July 5, 2010


After browsing the fantastic resource that is WhatDoTheyKnow.com (the Freedom Of Information (FOI) submission site that allows you to submit and share FOI requests with the public), I stumbled across a curious fact in response to a question within an FOI request to Tower Hamlets Council.

The question states quite clearly;

“4. After reading the prices for a 25% share of a one bedroom flat in Bow managed by the RSL ‘Family Mosaic’, and the fact that the minimun single income for these properties is £21,550. Please could you list how many full-time/Part-time council employees, agency or directly employed, do not meet the minium single income
requirement
?”
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/affordable_homes_part_rentpart_b#outgoing-54517

The answer to this question given later, (down the page linked to above) by one of the councils own Information Governance Administrative Officer’s was;

“The number of staff who is employed by the Council full time/part time, who does not meet the minimum single income, is 1216 members of staff.”

I’m assuming this minimum single income guarantee of £21,550, is for one bedroom. The original link to this page on the Family Mosaic site is dead, but using my Internet Savvy, I’ve found out the Minimum Income per single person for Affordable (Part Rent/Part Buy) 3 bedroom flats in Bethnal green is £27,234 under Family Mosaic;

The Silk Gardens , Parmiter Street , Bethnal Green , London , E2 9NG
Tenure type: New build HomeBuy
Bedrooms: 3
Bathroom: 1
Features: Garden,Balcony,Parking
Price from: £330,000
Min. share: 25%
Min. share value: £82500
Rent pcm: £360.94
Estimated service charge pcm: £173
Minimum income (single): £27,234
Minimum income (joint): £30,717
http://www.familymosaicsales.co.uk/propertieslist/tower-hamlets/the-silk-gardens-3.aspx

So 1216 members of staff cannot afford Affordable (Part Rent/Part Buy) one bedroom flats in the borough, and will not be allowed to even view them probably, as checks on finances need to be carried out.

This got me thinking, 1216 members of staff seems like a lot of people, which it is, but comparing this with my assumption that Tower Hamlets probably employs 10’s of thousands of staff, this can seem like a small figure. This set me on search for how many Council Staff are actually employed by the Council? Got me thinking about setting up an FOI request myself. The problem is though, that you dont really want to waste an FOI request on just one question, you either want to set it in the context of a set of questions, or as part of some research that would in its entirety reveal some obscure answer that you were searching for. If your lucky these responses get to reveal more answers, or as things go usually, prompt you to answer more questions.

Wracking my brains, for about 30 seconds I decided to search for any previous response to others requests at whatdotheyknow.com. which may answer my question, or which have directly asked the same question;

How many people does the Tower Hamlets employ?

This question above, struck gold and can be found at this address;

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/internet_usage

But this request like so many others is sadly missing from the published requests on the councils own FOI archives of disclosed requests. Yet on the whatdotheyknow site, the answer is published for all to see, nothing personal, nothing for the council to worry about, but they seem not to want to publish some answers.

Anyway the official answer to the above question is;

3- How many people does the Tower Hamlets employ?

As of 30th September 2009 Tower Hamlets have 5,963 employees excluding schools – http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/internet_usage#incoming-51403

Now this answer alludes to the fact that it “excludes schools”. Never mind, as the first FOI request that reveals 1216 employees do not meet the minium income requirement, also doesn’t include schools. I wonder how big the figure would be then?

So now the Maths;

1216 divided by 5963 = 0.2039
Multiply this by 100 gives you the percentage; 20.39%

So 20% or 1 in 5 people working for Tower Hamlets, not including Teaching Staff, cannot afford to buy into the councils much-heralded ‘Affordable Housing Scheme’. These figures are worked out from a one bedroom flat in just one development from one Registered Housing provider. I would imagine that the figures go up exponentially with the amount of rooms you require. Seeing that its also a fact that at least 64% of local working people in the borough (as defined in the Cabinet Report from December 2009) are already priced out of the housing market, then its no wonder so many of these homes are lying void.

These figures seem disturbing to me, so if my analysis is incorrect, then please feel free to contact me with some corrections that I may use to update this page.


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