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£62 million annual cost for housing benefits in Wandsworth

It would make a lot more sense if Wandsworth Council itself was building half the 1,000 homes for rent in Swandon Way with Legal and General as cost would be not much more than four times what taxpayers already pay every year in Wandsworth says BWTUC

A new study by GMB of official data shows that  there are 38,500 households in private sector rented accommodation in Wandsworth. Of these 5,000 households are in receipt of housing benefits to help them pay market level rents. This is 13% of all households in private sector rented accommodation in the borough.

Some £237.09 per week is average amount paid to these households in housing benefits. This is £ 12,328.68 per year per household. So the cost to the public sector for this accommodation is £62m per annum.

This annual figure is likely to increase as new developments like the Legal and General Swandon Way build to rent development is built. See notes to editors for copy of the press release from the developers of this 1,000 new homes for rent in central Wandsworth. 

The developers have an exhibition on this development on Thursday 25 and Saturday 27th July in the Brewers public house in East Hill, Wandsworth. BWTUC is urging members to attend the exhibition.

Spencer Barnshaw, BWTUC Secretary, said “ BWTUC appreciate this important study from GMB. 

GMB has been tireless in their campaign to demonstrate that building new social homes and maintaining the estates already developed for rent at genuinely affordable rents at way below market rents is the most cost effective option for providing housing for lower paid households. 

The fact that central government meets the £62 million annual costs of paying housing benefits to 5,000 lower paid households in Wandsworth seems not to matter to Wandsworth Tory councillors. It should do as it is taxpayers money. 

This annual sum if spent building new social homes for rent at genuinely affordable rents way below market rents would be far more cost effective option for providing housing for lower paid households.

It would make a lot more sense if Wandsworth Council itself was building half the 1,000 homes for rent in Swandon Way with Legal and General. The cost would be not much more than four times what taxpayers pay every year in Wandsworth for households in private sector rented accommodation.

Wandsworth councillors claim to guard carefully how to get value for money for taxpayers. They have a complete blind spot when it comes to building new homes for lower paid households. It’s time that they joined GMB In campaigning for councils to build new social homes for rent at genuinely affordable rents for lower paid households.

BWTUC salute local residents in the Sutton Estate and Cressingham Gardens for recent successful tireless campaigns to save homes on their estates from demolition. It’s high time for councillors and national government to support direct provision of social homes for rent for lower paid households.”


Contact Spencer Barnshaw on 00 447958125128 or 07921289880


Notes to editors 

Copy of the press release on the Swandon Way development.

14 May 2019

Legal & General announces that is has exchanged contracts on two adjacent sites in Wandsworth which will combine to deliver its largest Built To Rent (BTR) scheme to date. The scheme has been acquired by the Legal & General BTR Fund, PGGM and Legal & General Capital.

With an anticipated Gross Development Cost of £500 million, the site will be a flagship BTR development in the UK, providing around 1,000 homes and 85,000 sq ft of commercial space. The scheme has full planning consent which includes 35% affordable housing within one of Central London’s most established and popular residential areas.

Demand for rental property has continued to grow in the UK, having increased 34% over the last five years, according to Savills. Due to the supply/demand imbalance in the local area, the latest London Plan identifies that the unmet housing need in Wandsworth has now reached a shortfall of 2,310 new homes per year. Legal & General’s new scheme will be a significant contributor to tackling this shortage, providing purpose-built rental homes with long leases for all ages, demographics and social groups.

Through the creation of a BTR asset class, Legal & General is looking to use its sources of long term capital to help address the chronic lack of housing supply and meet the increasing demand for affordable, quality rental accommodation. Legal & General is uniquely placed to lead the way in this sector, with unparalleled access to investment opportunities, the skills to develop and a diverse pool of capital through pension fund clients and own balance sheet. It has already directly invested over £19bn in housing, infrastructure and small businesses, creating new jobs, homes and communities across UK towns and cities. With this latest acquisition, Legal & General has brought its total BTR pipeline to nearly 5,000 homes across the country, supporting a flexible workforce and productivity growth.

This latest scheme, covering 6 acres and currently comprising home improvement outlets, will represent the first BTR scheme in Wandsworth Town. Located within Zone 2 and adjacent to Wandsworth Town train station, the development will include a new entrance to the platforms and will form part of the major regeneration of the local area.
Legal & General’s first London BTR scheme, Blackhorse Mills in Walthamstow, will open in the Autumn.

Dan Batterton, Head of Build To Rent at LGIM Real Assets said: “This latest acquisition is another great example of Legal & General investing in a location with significant urban regeneration potential and providing large scale sustainable rental schemes which will have a positive socioeconomic impact. The location is highly desirable for renters and, with 1,000 units planned for the site, demonstrates Legal & General’s ambition to make a real impact on the delivery of new homes within the UK. Representing our largest scheme to date, this flagship BTR development is another step forward towards tackling the severe housing crisis facing both London and the UK, offering homes for all ages and social groups, as well as reduced living costs thanks to economies of scale.”

Paul Miller, MD Principal Investing at Legal & General Capital, said: “As renting continues to become a tenure of choice in the UK, the delivery of high density, high quality developments with vibrant communities is becoming more and more important. To do this, we need to deliver schemes which offer well connected housing options, which are carefully integrated into the public realm, maximising our existing infrastructure and supporting economic growth. This latest development in Wandsworth, our largest BTR acquisition to date, is a perfect example, offering 1,000 new rental homes alongside improving the station infrastructure and offering commercial real estate space to support local businesses.”

Mathieu Elshout, Senior Director Private Real Estate at PGGM, commented: “Our growing BTR venture with Legal & General continues to deliver on our goal to have a positive impact on the UK’s built environment over the long term. As a responsible investor of Dutch pension capital, we are delighted to be partnering with Legal & General on this flagship scheme, delivering quality and affordable homes for elective renters and helping to tackle London’s growing housing crisis.

Colliers Capital and JLL advised on the transactions.

For further information, please contact:
Lauren Kemp
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PR Manager, Legal & General Capital and LGIM Real Assets Email:

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