Off key

AN INVESTIGATION by Radio 5 yesterday stirred up fresh controversy about the targetting of government housing subsidies for key workers and the meaning of ‘affordable’.

Five Live Report said subsidised homes meant for key workers were going to bankers and accountants – and even someone working at Harrods. The investigation centred on one 112-home block at the Chelsea Bridge Wharf development in Battersea, London, and found 40 per cent of the homes had been sold to people who were not key workers.

Not the best Sunday morning listening for anyone at the Housing Corporation. However, the programme appears to have got confused.

According to the Corpie, 27 of the 112 homes were funded under the starter home initiative and 23 got other Corporation funding. These had a household income limit of £49,000 – just about ok for two teachers sharing a two-bed flat. Another 20 were for key workers with no grant but with a £60,000 income limit. The remaining 42 were sold under a 90 per cent share on the open market as part of the original section 106 deal between the developer and Wandsworth council.

Confused? Radio 5 seems to have been, as can be seen from the way it downgraded from its original publicity for the programme that key worker homes were being ‘mis-sold’ to a report later in the day that they are ‘under scrutiny’. This may have undermined its point about the key worker programme in particular but did it have a point about ‘affordable’ homes in general. Make up your own mind when it gets round to posting a ‘listen again’ link for the programme here.

Key workers probably will be confused too – by the number of different schemes involved in one block in one development and by what ‘affordable’ really means.

Homes at Chelsea Bridge Wharf are currently on sale at £545,000-£565,000.