The number of people finding themselves in crisis and in need of help from Perennial increased again last year. For many across the horticulture industry, working in jobs that are often low paid and seasonal, the effects of the economy and welfare reforms have taken their toll. Add to that job insecurity and the risk of accident or injury, together with other threats such as illness, family breakdown or bereavement, it is no wonder that more people are ending up in crisis.
Perennial is the only charity dedicated to helping everyone from across the horticulture industry and related sectors, delivering front line financial and emotional support and advice to those facing tough times. In 2017, there was a 9% increase in the total number of people that Perennial helped, assisting them in accessing just under £1.9 million in direct financial help, which included around £1.4 million in statutory benefits, a 35% increase on the previous year.
Sheila Thomson, Director of Services at Perennial, says: “Most of us take life’s essentials such as food and heat for granted, but for many people who are struggling to make ends meet, life is so precarious. An accident or injury at work can devastate a family in an instant, cutting off their income and suddenly heating the house is a luxury and it becomes a challenge even to keep a roof over their heads.
“We helped families and individuals from across the wonderful world of horticulture access £1.9 million in financial help in the last year, helping them cover their basic needs. Sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg – we can only help the people that we know about, but we are still hearing about people in terrible situations who need help but don’t know that we are there for them. Everyone in the industry shares a duty of care to look out for each other, so please help us spread the word about how Perennial can help. It might end up making all the difference to one of your colleagues, employees, friends or family.”
HOW PERENNIAL HELPS:
In 2017, Perennial helped people access nearly £1.9 million in direct financial help.
· Around £1.4 million in statutory benefits
· Almost £432,000 in direct financial help from Perennial
· Over £42,000 in grants from other sources
· In addition, the Debt Advice Team secured debt write offs amounting to £1.02 million
· 95% of people were visited in person within 10 working days of getting in touch
The majority of people that Perennial helps are of working age. In 2017, 88% of people getting in touch for the first time were under retirement age and 12% over retirement age, while the overall split was 73% under retirement age and 27% over retirement age. The largest age bracket, representing 32% of the total, were aged 26-49.
The increase in demand for financial support comes against a backdrop of Government welfare reforms and the phasing in of Universal Credit, which has actually resulted in many people seeing a drop in the amount of money they receive. Many horticulturists rely on the extra support that in-work benefits can bring but the changes to the welfare system are placing an additional burden on those who are already vulnerable.
Sheila Thomson continues: “People across the country are bearing the brunt of the challenging financial climate and the often confusing changes to the benefits system. Perennial is able to help people identify and claim for benefits that they are entitled to, as well as access other forms of financial support and grants. There was a lingering misconception that we help people who are retired but the statistics show that we are very much there for working age people who find themselves facing tough times.”
For more information about the range of free and confidential services Perennial offers its clients, please visit www.perennial.org.uk/help