Several British Victorian employers famously built housing for their workers – such as the Cadbury village of Bournville established in 1900 for employees at the company’s confectionery plant and Port Sunlight built in 1888 for workers of Lever Brothers soap factory. At the same time in the US, Milton Hershey provided housing and schools creating his own village.
Was this enlightened social responsibility, an attempt to “better” the workforce according to Quaker or other religious principles, or a way of keeping salaries low?
We are not so familiar with companies providing housing for workers today, but news of Tesco allocating flats to workers in London who have been forced out of the housing market, raises many similar issues.
Are we really back to Victorian times where employers need to provide housing for employees? Or is this a smart property investment move on the part of Tesco – the company’s portfolio is in excess of £12bn, which under new rules from the Chancellor effective 1 January this year can be placed in a Real Estate Investment Trust and receive special tax considerations.