Ikea to build affordable housing to combat high rents

Swedish furniture giant Ikea will build 36 flats to show it is possible to build genuinely affordable homes

They make your bookcases, bed, lamps, lights and sofas, so why not go ahead and let them build you a home too? Swedish furniture giant Ikea has announced it is building its own apartment block in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.

The 36 flats will be set aside for Ikea employees, but the company CEO has said he wants to combat high rents in Reykjavik and demonstrate that building genuinely affordable housing is possible.

The new flats will be cheaper than what a lot of people are paying to live in a dump, says the company’s CEO

To be constructed and fully furnished (the easy bit) by next summer, the lowest rents for apartments at the Ikea development will be set around 100,000 krona – £716 – each month. “That’s much cheaper than what a lot of people are paying (to live in) a dump,” said Thorinn Ivarsson, the company’s CEO in Iceland.

No doubt many Ikea employees in the south of England would welcome that sort of rent level. The Big Issue has previously examined the legacy of philanthropic and workers’ housing built in the UK during industrial era end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

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Today, some of the big banks in the City and Canary Wharf are known to provide flats for employees. The Armed Forces have continued to build plenty of accommodation for military personnel. But few of the UK’s biggest employers or most successful companies now feel the need to make sure their workforce has somewhere affordable to live.

Perhaps more big firms should consider the Ikea scheme. Their muscle might just help disrupt the cartel-like control held by small number of major developers over land acquisition and new housebuilding.

If you know of any interesting worker accommodation projects, let us know editorial@bigissue.com or @BigIssue.