Big rise in teachers relying on handouts to pay rent

Teachers are also applying for grants to cover their transport costs and utility bills

Adi Bloom

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Hundreds of teachers are asking for charitable handouts to keep them from homelessness, because they can no longer afford to pay their own housing and transport costs.

The number of teachers asking for help with these costs has risen by 40 per cent in the last year, according to the Education Support Partnership.

Figures provided by the charity reveal that it received 494 applications for grants during the financial year 2016-17.

But, in the eight months between April and November 2017, 531 applications were received: a 40 per cent increase on the same period the previous year. As Tes reported in December, the charity expects its grants to teachers threatened by homelessness to be more than double what it was last year.

The Education Support Partnership has also allocated grants to help teachers cover council tax, utility bills and food costs.

'Down to the last few quid'

Almost two-thirds – 63 per cent – of the charity’s grants were awarded to teachers and other staff in primary and secondary schools. And 28 per cent were awarded to those working in further and higher education.

Tom Smith, a 32-year-old primary teacher and single father from East London, said that he was struggling to support his two children on his £32,000 salary. He said that he was facing homelessness, until Education Support Partnership gave him a grant to help cover his rent and council tax last year.

“Every month is down to the last few quid,” he said. “I’ve got nothing in reserve: if the fridge breaks, if the washing machine breaks, there’s nothing to fall back on.

I have no idea where I would be if I hadn’t been able to get that financial help. I have some mates whose sofas we could have slept on, but I can imagine few more depressing things than having my life in bin bags with my two kids sleeping on mates’ sofas.”

'Devastating impact'

The latest figures come shortly after government statistics revealed that the number of applicants for teacher-training courses had dropped by 6,510 – equivalent to 33 per cent – since the same time last year.

And figures released last week show that thousands of teachers are on long-term sick leave, because of stress.

Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, told The Independent: “These figures show the devastating impact of this government’s decision to impose real-terms pay cuts on teachers year after year, since 2010.

“Despite the crisis, this has created in teacher recruitment and retention, the prime minister has still refused to find new funding to end the cap on teachers’ pay.”

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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