Social care workers help create an environment of physical and emotional safety and support for those drawing on social care, making a huge difference to their lives while facilitating a feeling of ‘home’ wherever they are, be that in a residential care home, their own house, or at another outside of home setting. It is shocking, therefore, that these same people are at risk of losing the roof over their own heads.
The RSA recently reported that those who work in social care have been found to be most financially insecure across all sections of their research, and have noted that the social care workforce are more likely to be “trapped in insecure housing” as a result (RSA April 2021; September 2021). The current housing and rental crisis has impacted millions across the UK. In October, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that 3.8 million low income households in the UK are currently in rent arrears (estimated at a total value of £5.2 billion)- many of this number are “behind on multiple types of bills” such as council tax, electricity and gas, in addition to their renting debt. These findings no doubt reflect the current desperate situation for those working in social care- as the JRF only surveyed those in low income households “in the bottom 40% of incomes across the UK” with participants required to have a household income of under £24,752. With the average salary in social care being far lower than this, it is highly likely that our workforce were well represented in those surveyed.
Here at The Care Workers, Charity, our Team sees first hand, the impact of the current rental and housing crisis. Since last year (2020), we have seen a 48% increase in the number of applications we receive requesting help with the prevention of eviction, and a 100% increase in the amount of grants we have paid to prevent our applicants being evicted from their homes (usually due to significant rent arrears). Moreover, the average amount we award to support the payment of rent arrears and/or mortgage costs/similar eviction prevention costs has increased by 8% in the same time period. Support for rent arrears and the prevention of eviction is now one of the most common applications we receive.
And yet, the crisis looks set to deepen. We are deeply concerned about the impending financial decimation set to be faced by those in the sector. Analysis by Policy in Practice (September 2021) found that the new Health and Social Care Levy will mean that care workers “earning the National Living Wage in April 2022 would pay an extra £121 a year, in effect paying for doing their job of caring for others” . The Levy, in combination with the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, will devastate already fragile finances and living conditions- and given that we must also consider that food and energy costs are expected to increase by £170 between now and April 2022, the Policy in Practice group estimate care workers will be worse off by £1035 a year. These changes, and continued lack of support, will mean even more care workers fall behind on rent and bills. Facing the possibility of being driven further into debt, and evicted from their homes, they will no doubt be forced to “cut back on essentials like food to manage their budgets” (JRF 2021).
The social care sector is a vital lifeline for so many, making a difference to the lives of all those who draw on care, whilst contributing a huge amount to the UK economy (£50.3 billion per year to the English economy alone (Skills for Care 2021)). It is absolutely unacceptable that the skilled and dedicated professionals who are the beating heart of the care provision, are facing such devastating financial hardship.
The Care Workers’ Charity provides free financial and wellbeing support to social care workers in crisis. We help as many as we can, but we can’t do it alone. Please give what you can