Christmas hardship: RCN charity outlines tips on managing finances for nurses

Nurses, midwives or healthcare assistants – not just RCN members – are eligible to apply for help from Lamplight Support Service.
Xmas hardship

Nurses, midwives or healthcare assistants – not just RCN members – are eligible to apply for help from Lamplight Support Service

Lamplight Support Service saw a 10% rise in demand for their services this year  
 Picture: iStock

Tips for nurses on how to manage their finances this Christmas are being given by a hardship charity.

Lamplight Support Service has listed some ideas of how to make money stretch a little further over the festive season.

The service, founded in 2016 by the RCN’s charitable arm, gave the tips as figures show a 10% rise in demand for its services this year.

There were 1,775 appeals for help from Lamplight in 2017, compared with 1,596 in 2016.

Eligible to apply for help

Any nurse, midwife or healthcare assistant – not just RCN members – facing hardship is eligible to apply for help.

One in five of the grants Lamplight made in 2016 were to people in full-time employment and, while figures are not yet available, there is an increasing number of 'working poor', the service says.

RCN Foundation head Deepa Korea said: ‘There has been a real impact from nurses pay not rising fast enough. Many are struggling to make ends meet.

‘On top of things like rent or mortgage payments, there are commuting and child care costs, utility bills. It’s very hard.

‘Then if something unexpected happens –  like a leak in the home and you have a choice of being able to eat or fixing it – what are you going to choose?’

Deepa Korea’s tips on managing finances at Christmas include:

  • Work out what money you have until next pay day and plan how you will spend it. Remember that if you’re paid early in December, it will have to last five weeks. January can feel a long month so be prepared
  • Use price comparison tools to compare supermarket offers. Remember that the budget supermarkets often have items that top the taste tests
  • Write a list for your food shop and stick to it. Many overbuy so be realistic about what you need. The shops don’t close for long
  • Christmas fetes could be good ways of picking up stocking fillers cheaply
  • Seeing family or friends after Christmas day? Consider getting their presents in the sales – sales often open online on the evening of 25 December
  • Outings for children don’t need to be expensive – just a trip into town to see the Christmas lights can be exciting or a countryside walk
  • If you receive any vouchers and are struggling in January, remember you can use those from retailers to do food shopping
  • Avoid high-interest credit and explore all your financial options. ‘Quick fix’ solutions rarely work

57% of clients report being better off

Ms Korea says 57% of clients report being better off as a result of either Lamplight advice or grants, and clients have said they are up to £3,400 better off simply by following their advice.

From July to September 2017, Lamplight carried out 469 assessments by income maximisation advisors to identify savings as well as tax allowance entitlements. It gave 102 grants, which can be up to £1,000, but average £500.

Ms Korea added ‘I am constantly amazed to see how many nurses want to support other nurses by donating to our fund – even though they don’t have much to spare themselves.

‘It just proves what a great family nursing is.’

Further information

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