Payday loans for nursesMore than 1 in 20 NHS nurses are being forced to take payday loans to cater for everyday expenses. This is according to a new poll by the RCN. The recent Royal College of Nursing workforce poll revealed that 6% of nurses in the past year had been forced to rely on high-interest loans to meet daily expenses. 40% of the nurses questioned admitted to losing sleep over financial worries while 25% admitted to having borrowed money from their bank, family members or friends to meet regular monthly expenses.
What’s more is 23% admitted to having taken on another job just to cover typical bills/expenses. The survey which involved 7,720 nurses across the UK also showed that a record 50% of NHS nurses rely on overtime to meet their monthly bills. There’s more! 56% have been forced to make drastic financial decisions such as cutting back on travel and food expenses. 20% struggle to pay electricity and gas bills while 11% have been late meeting rental or mortgage payments at least once in the past year. Some nurses (2.3%) have also been forced to rely on food banks or charities to survive.
The RCN survey also indicated that 37% of nurses are seeking new employment opportunities which is a 24% rise compared to the same period a decade ago. What’s more interesting is majority of nurses looking for new jobs are searching for employment outside the NHS. 14% admitted to looking for employment opportunities abroad. The RCN survey shows that 70% of nurses feel worse off financially today than they were five years ago. The NHS employs 80% of the nurses in the survey. The current predicament is attributed to the NHS failure to meet its financial obligations as an employer. The RCN found it disturbing that the NHS is losing nurses because it is unable to pay wages promptly. Some nurses have gone as far as considering a total change in career.
Many nurses are ready to take on early retirement and find new jobs outside the industry. Some nurses are even discouraging new entrants in the industry despite being so passionate about nursing. The poll which was released before this week’s budget implored Philip Hammond to tackle issues surrounding public sector pay. According to Janet Davies, the RCN C.E.O and general secretary, these shocking findings show the amount of financial pressure faced by nursing staff in the UK today. Davies finds it ludicrous that the UK health service industry is losing highly-trained staff because the sector can’t be able to pay monthly bills on time. She goes further to state that the NHS may have managed to make savings, however; this has come at the expense of their staff.
The NHS is guilty of reducing remuneration for nurses every single year in real terms which explains why the health service sector has a shortage of 40,000 nurses currently in England alone. According to Janet Davis, the budget needed to give a clear way forward on wages for public servants. Hammond’s budget brings hope to UK workers including disgruntled nurses. In his budget reading on Wednesday 22nd November 2017, Hammond stated that the income inequality level in the UK is at its lowest in three decades. The poorest individuals have enjoyed faster income growth since 2010 compared to the richest . The percentage of full-time low-paying jobs has also decreased drastically.
According to Hammond, Britain’s conservative government is delivering a fairer country. Hammond has gone ahead and increased income tax personal allowance. The new limit (£11,850 per person) takes effect in April 2018. According to Hammond, this increase will mean typical basic rate taxpayers stand to save £1,075 yearly compared to 2010. Full-time workers who are on a national wage will enjoy an extra £3,800+ every year. The Chancellor has also increased higher rate tax threshold from £45,001 to £46,350 allowing people to earn much more before they are required to pay more tax. Most importantly, the Chancellor has raised the national living wage to £7.83 from £7.50. The raise which takes effect in April 2018 is expected to give full-time workers a £600 pay hike.
Many find Hammond’s budget a win-win for everyone although the wealthiest are expected to pay more income tax. Some critics, however, argue that the new budget doesn’t do much to help those in desperate need. According to critics, the budget incentives are mere inflation adjustments that don’t do much to solve the wage stagnation problem facing the UK in the past decade. As long as wages continue to fall behind the spiraling cost of living, nurses and many other workers in the UK will continue to depend on payday loans among other types of short term loans to get by. The average salary of a registered nurse in the UK stands at £23,319 according to the latest statistics. If the salary was to be adjusted in line with inflation, (by 14%, since the 2011 pay freeze), it should be £26,584 which is £3,265 more.