Credit crunch hits teachers

11th April 2008 at 01:00
Increasing numbers of teachers are being forced to ask for financial hardship aid as their salaries fail to keep pace with soaring mortgages and the cost of living.

The Teacher Support Network (TSN) said it had dealt with more money concerns linked to housing this year than ever before, and expected them to increase during the "credit crunch".

Of the 2,999 calls to the charity in the first quarter of this year, more wanted financial help than personal advice, workplace guidance or any other kind of support.

TSN, which manages the National Union of Teachers' benevolent fund, gave 63 hardship grants totalling pound;62,730 in the first three months of this year, compared with 53 grants totalling pound;50.495 two years ago.

The NASUWT union saw the number of teachers applying to its benevolent fund rise to 176 grant applications last year, though the sums paid out by it and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers fell.

Mike Wilding, a financial adviser to TSN, said: "Many of our clients have been in trouble since their fixed-rate mortgage period ended and the payments have increased by pound;150 a month and more. Many are really struggling to pay."

Nikki, a 32-year-old teacher from north Wales, asked TSN for help when an unplanned pregnancy forced her on to maternity leave. She was awarded pound;990 by the charity to cover essential expenses, including two months of mortgage payments and council taxes.

"Public sector wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living, and that's hurting everyone," she said.

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