'Credit crunch' prompts rise in requests for hardship assistance

25th April 2008 at 01:00
Increasing numbers of teachers in Wales are seeking financial hardship aid to keep pace with rising living costs
Increasing numbers of teachers in Wales are seeking financial hardship aid to keep pace with rising living costs.

Since January, Teacher Support Cymru (TSC) has reported a 14 per cent rise in teacher callers looking for loans, grants and advice on credit card debt, housing and mortgage arrears.

The body said the rise is evidence that the credit crunch is starting to hit the teaching profession, with many callers saying their mortgage payments had gone up by as much as pound;200 a month this year.

Rhys Williams, spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers Cymru (NUT), said the rising costs of fuel, food and other living costs had influenced decisions by the union to call for a strike over pay yesterday.

"In Wales, there are quite long distances to travel and housing is a particular problem for young teachers," he said. "The Government doesn't include fuel and housing in its measure of inflation. That's why there is the argument from the NUT saying a 2.4 per cent increase in pay is well below the rate of inflation."

The Teacher Support Network, which manages the union's benevolent fund, gave 63 hardship grants totalling pound;62,730 in the first few weeks of the year, compared with 53 grants totalling pound;50,495 two years ago.

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

Patrick Nash, TSC's chief executive, said high workload and money problems were the main concerns of teacher callers since the beginning of the year.

Photograph: Rex Features.

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