Biggest demand ever for emergency grants | Education Support
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Biggest demand ever for emergency grants

5th March 2019

2018 saw the biggest demand ever for our emergency financial grants from people working in education resulting in more than £300,000 given in almost 700 awards as reported in The Guardian

Carl Hanser, Ed Support’s Grants Manager explains:

"From childcare costs to utility bills and travel, the struggles of working and retired individuals and families varies but amongst common problems one issue stands out for growing numbers of educators; the housing crisis and the rising associated costs as a proportion of people’s incomes. It has always been an issue but the growth in applications relating to rent and mortgage arrears, rental deposits required and council tax bills is fast outstripping our ability to meet the need.

"Half of the awards we made in the past calendar year were to help educators keep or secure a home. We’re trying to do ‘more with less’ as the demand grows and we speak to many in desperate situations.”

Housing costs increasingly an issue 

In just four years there has been a significant rise in grant applications. In 2014 we received 322 and 110 of the awards we made related to housing. By 2018 it had risen to 246 - a 123% increase in housing-related grants. 

Sarah' story

Sarah (not her real name) for example, an award-winning secondary school teacher in London, turned to Ed Support when a pay rise in return for her hard work meant her benefits were drastically cut, leaving her worse off and unable to pay her rent. She told us her story:

"After my ex-husband and I separated I was able to stay in our two-bedroom flat with our young children thanks largely to the financial benefits I was entitled to. The landlord kept putting the rent up though and eventually we moved to a one-bedroom place where we lived for two years. It was hard to find a landlord who didn’t mind a single-parent moving in but a friend kindly agreed to act as a guarantor for me. The children shared a bedroom and I slept on a sofa bed.

"Two years later I managed to find somewhere with two bedrooms that I could afford in the same area so my children didn’t have to change school and was near our social network which is so important as a single parent.

"However things were very difficult financially. I was delighted when my Head awarded me a pay rise after working really hard during my NQT year. Surely this would help our situation. I let HMRC know straight away. I had no idea how much it would affect my tax credits. When I told the benefits agency about my rise I was told I needed to pay back £1000 and that my benefits would be put on hold until April 2019.

"This left me significantly worse off and put me in a financial crisis. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t pay our rent. Both my children are at primary school and so childcare is a big factor for me too. The situation prompted me to have to look at working part-time which I found difficult emotionally as I had never expected to have to reduce my working hours.  I produced a spreadsheet including housing, shopping, childcare and found that I would be left with nothing at all.

I was too scared to even turn the heating on. Ed Support helped me with an emergency grant of just over £900, nearly covering the rent just before Christmas.  I don’t panic now when I have to turn the heating on and my Head has supported me to work more flexibly helping to reduce my childcare costs and see my children more.

"It was really after Ed Support helped at such a difficult time that I felt much better. I don’t know where I would have been without your grant."

Victoria's story

Victoria works as a school admin. When her husband left her and their four sons, she was unable to keep up her mortgage payments and went into arrears. She contacted our grants service who were able to help.

"The situation with my ex-husband led to me defaulting on my mortgage payments. I was getting calls from the bank chasing the payments. I've never not paid anything like that in my life before. It's an incredibly scary situation when you start to think that the house might be taken away.

I work as an administrator in a school for children outside mainstream education. I went to work one day and was having a really bad day and I was very upset. I went to talk to my boss and she said 'have you thought about phoning Education Support Partnership and seeing if there was anything that they could do to help?'

I called Carl the Grants Caseworker and was surprised to find out I was eligible for help as they support everyone working in education. Within a few days Carl called me back and I was delighted when he told me that they would be able to pay a grant to help me with the mortgage arrears.

I was so happy I just burst into tears on him. I couldn't believe it that someone was going to help me. What Education Support has done has actually shown me that there is hope and I am slowly rebuilding and there is an end in sight."

What can you do?

To meet the rising demand for our grants service, we need your help. Please can you support education staff in financial crisis by making a donation