Bristol key workers 'forced' to quit job and move away from city due to housing costs

A lack of affordable housing affects 25 per cent of Bristolians, according to former Green councillor.

Key workers are being forced to quit vital jobs and move away from Bristol because of unaffordable house prices, a council meeting was told.

Councilors heard one social care professional had to leave their role in Bristol after just four months.

They moved to a place with cheaper property, alongside their partner who is also a social worker.

Former Green councillor Clive Stevens told the council's overview and scrutiny management board a lack of affordable housing poses a risk to Bristol having enough carers, teachers and other key workers.

According to the council's own risk register, the likelihood of failing to deliver enough affordable housing is rated as "critical" and deemed "almost certain".

The authority says a four-year housing delivery plan will set out its strategy for meeting mayor Marvin Rees’s target of building 1,000 affordable homes a year by 2024.

It says this year’s goal of 450 will increase annually through a wide range of options for accelerating housing supply.

Former Green councillor Clive Stevens told the meeting: “If we don’t have enough affordable homes, the city won’t have access to enough key workers to be able to deliver some of the council’s corporate strategy goals.

“This affordable housing shortfall presents a systemic risk to the mayor’s entire corporate strategy - because having enough affordable homes is such an important part of having enough carers, teachers and other key workers in the city."

He said it is an "important issue" for "at least" a quarter of Bristolians, adding: “Last week a council adult social care professional handed in their notice. 

“They had been working for the council for just four months and were to be an important part of the team. They have a partner, a social worker.

“Their reason for both leaving so soon was they couldn’t afford to live in Bristol.

“They have moved to where property is cheaper. A household of two working people, not totally full-time, can’t afford to live here.”

He said the lack of affordable housing had been getting worse since at least 2000.

“Bristol planners and builders have failed to deliver enough during the past 20 years,” he said.

“There is a low chance of meeting the city’s needs and high harm caused by not doing so.”

In a written response to Mr Stevens’ concerns, a council officer said a new housing plan for 2021-2025 will set out the council's strategy for meeting its 1,000 homes a year target by 2024.

“It will look at a wide range of options for accelerating supply by working with partner providers, the council’s housing company and the direct delivery of council homes," they saod.

“The housing delivery plan will reflect the impact affordable housing has on meeting wider corporate aims.

“We recognise the importance and value of affordable housing, and continue to press for the right national investment in key projects such as Temple Quarter that support our ambitious aims for the city.”

They said many factors could feasibly affect the authority’s ability to achieve all its goals and aspirations, and the supply of affordable housing was one.

“However, in terms of issues like workforce availability, we should be mindful there is a much broader travel to work area,” the officer said.

“The corporate strategy sets out overarching aims and there is more detailed planning, risk assessment and target setting across the whole council that flows from this top-level strategy.

“This will include risks associated with the delivery of affordable housing and both this and progress against targets will be reported transparently to appropriate scrutiny and cabinet forums over the life of the strategy.”

They added the 2021/22 target was to build 450 affordable homes and this would increase annually, “staircasing delivery to reach the mayoral target of 1,000 affordable homes being built in 2023/24”.

Credit: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter.