Lucky staff pay low london rent

AT 34, geography teacher Fraser Skimming is frustrated that he still cannot get his foot on the housing ladder.

Despite being head of department at Little Ilford school in east London's Manor Park, a position that attracts a pound;36,000-a-year salary, he cannot afford to buy a flat anywhere other than in the most rundown parts of the city.

However, Mr Skimming is lucky. He is one of thousands of key workers taking advantage of low-rent flat-share schemes offered by housing associations all over the country which are likely to expand following next week's Treasury spending review.

For pound;85-a-week, he occupies a room in a former Victorian bank building in East Ham, with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. While the ground and first floors have been converted to commercial offices, Plaistow-based Boleyn amp; Forest Housing Society acquired the apartments on the second and third floors to let specifically to single teachers who would not otherwise be able to afford the private sector.

Mr Skimming, who moved to London from Dumfries seven years ago, said: "I've always wanted to work in London and take advantage of all the things the city has to offer. But it is depressing when you are a few years into your career and you still can't afford to buy anywhere.

"It would be great if the Treasury puts more money into helping people like myself buy somewhere. But it's also important to make available affordable rented accommodation such as mine so that younger teachers who are not ready to buy can afford to live in London too."

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