The impact of the housing crisis

Written by: Julian Stanley | Published:
Image: iStock

Many teachers are put under huge strain because of the high cost and low availability of decent accommodation. Julian Stanley explains

Many of us are aware that the UK is in the grip of a housing crisis which is already affecting many thousands of working individuals and families. What is perhaps lesser known is the impact it is having on many teachers.

For those in or about to take up their first posts in secondary schools, particularly in major cities and popular areas where pressure on housing is high and affordability low, the combined shortage and expense means growing numbers of education professionals, particularly younger teachers and NQTs, cannot find somewhere they can afford to rent and are being forced out of the market.

The strain that this can put on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated. Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, found in a recent survey that one in five of us have at some point in the last five years “suffered mental health problems including anxiety, depression and panic attacks” due to a housing pressure.

And one in six have said the pressure has also affected their physical health. Shelter now estimates that as many as 41 per cent of homeless households are in work, rising even higher to 47 per cent in London.

Of course teachers have not been immune in the past to financial or housing problems. The Teachers Housing Association was established in 1967 and aims to provide safe, affordable rented housing, but as they mark their 50th anniversary they have seen a surge in applications.

Here at the Education Support Partnership, we too have seen a marked growth in the last two years among education professionals accessing our confidential grants service in relation to significant housing problems, often compounded by other difficulties.

Janet (not her real name) is a secondary English and media teacher who had a terrible experience in London before she was able to change her situation with our help.

Her personal circumstances including the death of her father meant that she needed to support her family financially. When she was offered a great teaching job she and her partner moved from Leeds to London where they lived in a tiny, overcrowded flat with her partner’s family.

“We were literally living on top of each other,” she explained. As the only member of the family with a permanent job at the time, after paying bills she had no way of saving a deposit to rent another flat. She tried to get a loan but couldn’t because of debt she accrued when she needed to pay for her father’s funeral.

On top of this, Janet was in a busy, stressful job which involved commuting for three hours a day. Exhausted, she became depressed. She was referred for counselling by her GP and her head of English gave her a list of organisations who might be able to help. The Education Support Partnership was one of them.

Our grants scheme, aimed at helping teachers and anyone working in education, was able to award her £1,000 for a rental deposit. She and her partner now have a large, one-bedroom flat much closer to her work.

We are here to help anyone in the sector who is struggling with financial and money worries, helping people to get back on track.
Carl Hanser, our dedicated grants case worker, oversees around 550 applications a year in relation to money worries from across the education workforce.

Enquiries can become more common as we head towards the end of the summer term, as Carl explained: “While the problem is more common for those on temporary or term-time only contracts, we hear from across the sector and from many secondary school teachers.

“In most cases rent arrears are the issue but also for NQTs waiting to begin their first permanent roles, particularly in major cities where rents and deposit requirements are increasingly out of reach.

“People can get stuck, jumping between short-term tenancies where there is no security and this can have a very detrimental effect on wellbeing.”

We are glad that we have been able to help many people to find short-term financial solutions to housing difficulties through our grant scheme, but we want everyone working in secondary education to know that our support is here.

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

Further information

For anyone experiencing problems related to housing or other work or personal worries, visit www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk or call and speak to one of the Education Support Partnership’s trained counsellors, available 24/7 on the free, confidential helpline 08000 562 561.


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