Housing: A helping hand

Written by: Julian Stanley | Published:
Image: iStock

The impact of stagnating salaries and rising housing costs is becoming clear for many in the teaching profession. Julian Stanley looks at what help is out there

A few months ago, I wrote about the impact of the UK’s housing crisis on some of the teachers we support (The impact of the housing crisis, SecEd, June 2017: http://bit.ly/2ikCVHB).

It is well documented that in some parts of the UK, affordable housing whether rented or owned is increasingly scarce, while demand has led to deposits and rents in the private sector spiralling.

Salaries and secure incomes for many have meanwhile stagnated or depreciated in value creating greater financial strain for many more working people. What seems to be changing is the number of professionals whose circumstances mean they can no longer make ends meet.

For some education professionals, NQTs living in high-demand areas for example, supply teachers and others without secure contracts or those dependent on one salary, this can be a particular issue.

Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, describes the UK’s housing market as “fundamentally broken”.

Fewer people can now expect to ever own their own home and the private rental sector is increasingly unaffordable.

In April, Shelter published research that revealed that typical new homes built today are now out of reach for more than eight in 10 (83 per cent) working private-renting families across the country.

We have seen a surge in teachers applying to our grants scheme in the major cities and areas where pressure on housing and living costs are high. While we are pleased to be helping more, we are extremely concerned that this year is set to be our busiest yet in terms of grants given to help with housing costs, most commonly rent arrears and rental deposits.

Carl, who manages our confidential grants service, explained: “Last year we helped 300 people who were experiencing a financial crisis in relation to housing, Just half-way through this financial year this figure had already reached 350 and, as we head for Christmas, continues to rise. Almost half of the grants we give now relate to housing and 2017 is on course to be our busiest yet.”

This is echoed by the Teachers’ Housing Association, an organisation that provides more affordable housing for those in the profession. Having marked its 50th anniversary this year, they also tell us demand has never been higher.

“The housing need of London’s education staff in particular is even greater now than when we began housing working teachers in the mid-70s,” its chairman Chris Bright explains in their annual report.

Housing insecurity can put immense strain on mental health and wellbeing and, for teachers, it’s a great additional burden on top of the pressures of the job.

We first spoke to Tara, an experienced secondary school teacher in Bath, early this year. Just a few days before Christmas her landlord decided to sell the house that had been her home for three years. A single parent with two children, she quickly discovered that her salary was not enough to rent another home that would not be too far from her work or her children’s school.

She explained: “I was already spending all my spare time working as a tutor and marking exams just to pay for groceries and to avoid getting into debt.”

The cost of moving, including the very large rental deposit now expected, was impossible to meet without savings.

The council were unable to help her and she was struggling to concentrate at work. Tara eventually shared her situation with a fellow teacher who told her about Education Support Partnership’s grants service.

Carl deals daily with applications to our confidential service and we were delighted that the charity was able to help

Tara, who had very real fears that she could quickly become homeless. Helping with a rental deposit and moving costs, Tara and her children will now spend this Christmas in a secure home.

If you or a colleague is suffering a short-term financial emergency, we may be able to help. You can also find out how you could support us to help others.

Because of the rise in grant applications related to housing, we are asking readers to please support our Christmas appeal, which focuses on Tara’s story. You can read more online, see below.

  • Julian Stanley is the CEO of the Education Support Partnership.

Further information


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Sign up SecEd Bulletin