02 March 2018
There has been over a 100% increase in the number of charity grants provided to public sector workers over the last seven years after pay freezes left families without enough money to make ends meet, new figures show.
Data from the UK’s largest financial hardship charity, Turn2Us, and revealed by the Independent, showed that 50.8% of all the 3,278 grants given out last year were received by people working in education, health, government or local government.
Public sector workers accounted for just 24.6% of recipients of the charity’s funds in 2010, but they are now relying on grants at a higher rate than ever. While public sector workers’ reliance on charity has more than doubled, the overall need for grants across the country rose by just 10% in comparison.
Those experiencing the highest rise in need were people working in government and local government (mostly police officers) to whom 30 grants went in 2010 but 126 in 2017 – a rise of 320%. The average wage of a police constable has fallen by around 12% in real terms during that time.
In health and social care, 413 people received grants in 2010, rising to 900 in 2017 and 56% of recipients were nurses. Average pay for nurses has fallen by 14% in real terms due to the governments’ austerity measures.
Around three-quarters (76%) of the grants given to education workers were received by fully qualified teachers, whose pay fell by 12% in real terms between 2005 and 2015. Overall, 802 grants were given to people working in education in 2017, compared with 364 in 2010.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, described the figures as “appalling”, telling the Independent: “Nursing staff work hard to keep services going despite staffing shortages, increasing demand and funding cuts. Years of real-term pay cuts have left them struggling to make ends meet and, sadly, too many are choosing to walk away from nursing.”
Vice Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales Ché Donald said he wasn’t surprised more police officers had been forced to turn to charities: “Year after year the government has chosen to give police officers a pay increase way below the rate of inflation putting them under greater financial pressure,“ he told the news provider.
“I know of cases where officers have been forced to use food banks, while others are turning to pay-day lenders incurring spiralling debts, just to be able to survive.”