Warning nurses need to earn extra £10,500 ‘to afford London rent’

The report, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, warned that the high cost of rental housing in London and in the South East could contribute to a shortage of nurses in the area.

“The crippling effect of the cost of living is not only forcing nurses out of the capital but also contributing to a recruitment crisis”

Jude Diggins

It found that rental costs in London accounted for 39% of nurses’ and midwives’ income and noted that a ratio of 30% was the conventional benchmark that is considered affordable.

Those behind the report said that, as a result, nurse median wages would need to increase by roughly £10,500 a year for current median rents to be deemed affordable. 

In addition, the report highlighted that rent in the South East of England accounted for 34% of nurses’ and midwives’ salaries and 32% in the East.

It said: “On an occupational basis, many key workers such as nurses and teachers cannot afford the rents charged in areas such as London and the South East.”

In response to the findings, the Royal College of Nursing’s regional director for the London branch, Jude Diggins, said: “The crippling effect of the capital’s cost of living is not only forcing nursing staff out of the capital but also contributing to a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession which sees London with the highest nurse vacancy rate in the country.

Royal College of Nursing London

Jude Diggins

Jude Diggins

“RCN members tell us they cannot find affordable accommodation and when wanting to start a family simply cannot commit to doing it in London, yet still NHS trusts continue to sell land to build houses out of the reach of nursing staff and other keyworkers,” she said.

“When system leaders, politicians and employers know of the difficulties staff are going through, this is illogical, unfair and counterproductive,” she added.

‘Nurses, teachers and other keyworkers are vital to the running of cities and towns across the country and the cost of living crisis they face needs to be treated with the urgency it deserves,” said Ms Diggins.

Deputy mayor for housing and residential development, James Murray, said: “Key workers make an invaluable contribution to the capital, and we will be far worse off as a city if they are forced out through high rents and being unable to buy a home.

“The mayor is using all the powers he has to build new council homes, homes for social rent, and homes for first-time buyers – and last year we started a record number,” he said.

“But government must play their part too, by providing us and councils with the funding and powers to build far more, and by overhauling the private rented sector which is not fit for purpose,” he added.