28 Jul 2020

Financial security plummets by 14 percent as Nationwide gives grants to help communities

  • Quarterly poll of Nationwide members reveals 14 percent drop in financial security
  • Optimism about future job prospects also falls by 11 percent since crisis began
  • Nationwide offers grants of £10,000-£50,000 to support local UK housing projects
  • ‘I stopped eating to pay my rent’: housing support directed to those most in need

Struggling households are to be supported as Nationwide offers a fresh round of community grants to help people stay in their homes through local charities and partnerships.

It comes as a quarterly survey of the Society’s members reveals a 14 per cent drop in financial security and an 11 per cent fall in how optimistic people feel about work.

With the government’s furlough scheme coming to an end on October 31st and lockdown restrictions gradually lifting, the world’s largest building society is using its position to give financial support to individuals and families whose lives may not return to normal. Potential job losses, loneliness and a battle to pay bills are just some of the issues people are facing.

Over the past two years Nationwide members and colleagues have come together to award £10 million to 251 housing projects across the UK. As a mutual, Nationwide aims to be a force for good in communities and is focused on supporting those who need it most through its Community Grants Scheme (This link will open in a new window) and is calling on charities, community land trusts and housing co-operatives who need funding to apply for grants between £10,000 and £50,000 by Friday.

A survey[1] of more than 1,200 members of Nationwide Building Society shows that in the second quarter of the year (April-June), 64 per cent said they were feeling financially secure, compared to 78 per cent in the first quarter (January-March).

According to the research, people are feeling more concerned about the financial impacts of the crisis, particularly on their employment and ability to make a living. People’s optimism about their future job prospects fell from 56 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 to 45 per cent in the second.

Separate YouGov research commissioned by Nationwide shows that as a result of Covid-19, more than one in ten (11%) are concerned about losing their property, a figure which jumps to one in five (20%) for those who are unemployed. A third (31%) believe their local authority has done a bad job at tackling housing and homelessness issues over the past five years.

Kerrie Colford, Social Investment Manager at Nationwide commented: “Our Community Grants scheme offers financial support to those seeking to make a difference, those on the front lines of tackling housing issues that impact so many across the UK. We believe everyone should have a place fit to call home and helping people into homes has been at our foundation for more than 140 years. Particularly in recent times, the issue of homelessness and a lack of suitable housing has become increasingly important and with a shortage of new properties, outdated rental stock and a lack of support for the most vulnerable in our society, we feel it’s our responsibility to continue to help.”

Applying to be a part of the Community Boards or receiving a Community Grant: Applications are shortlisted before Nationwide’s regional Community Boards, made up of Nationwide members and colleagues, come together to award the grants. Successful applicants will receive their grant to provide housing services to people in need to support the most vulnerable.

Applications for both Community Grants and for members wanting to join their local Community Board are open until 31st July 2020 (This link will open in a new window). Anyone wishing to apply for a grant to make improvements to their community should go to www.nationwidecommunitygrants.co.uk (This link will open in a new window)

Case study: Keila was close to losing her home due to benefit caps: Keila, from Suffolk, fell into debt through no fault of her own and was at risk of losing her home due to an overlooked benefit cap. The YouGov research reflects Keila’s feeling of uncertainty as a third of Brits (31%) believe their local authority has done a bad job at tackling housing and homelessness issues over the past five years. Those in younger age groups are more likely to believe their local authority had done a bad job tackling housing issues, with 34 per cent of those aged 18-24 believing this, compared to 28 per cent of those over the age of 55.

Keila contacted Suffolk-based charity REACH Community Projects (This link will open in a new window) to help with her difficult situation. Justine spoke to her as part of the charities programme and helped get her budget back on track, debts reduced and a plan in place to save her home. Justine was funded by the Nationwide Community Grants scheme to help more people in communities with their finances and their homes.

Keila said: “I stopped eating so that I could pay my rent. But Justine has been fantastic. I’m back on top of my rent and I’m so much more hopeful for the future. I love my home. I don’t know what I would have done without Justine.”

Henry Wilson, Projects Director, REACH: “We’ve been helping people for almost 15 years but with the help from Nationwide’s Community Grants we’ve been able to support more people than ever which has been particularly important during the Covid-19 outbreak with families more vulnerable than ever before.”