Most of us have heard of fuel poverty and food poverty, but what is ‘furniture poverty’.
Frade, established in 1990, helps over 10,000 families on average per year, and has also seen demands for our services year in the past grow. We are constantly asking our community members to help with donations of furniture and furnishings to enable our Charity to support our work with local council housing officers.
Furniture projects may help you if you are:
- Homeless and being rehoused.
- Moving on from a hostel or supported housing.
- Struggling with money and can’t afford essentials for your home.
Local research highlights that most beneficiaries would approach friends and family for support, before making an application. North-East Child Poverty Commission Director, Amanda Bailey stated that "The government recognises that there is a big challenge around living costs, because they have introduced hardship funds and emergency temporary grants which are allocated by local authorities, but people don't always know about these or know how to apply”.
There are no official figures for the number of people living in furniture poverty, but research done before the pandemic by the charity Turn2us [Fighting UK Poverty - Turn2us] suggested 4.8 million people were without at least one essential household appliance such as a cooker or a fridge, and the problem is getting worse.
Living without essential furniture items can have a terrible impact on people’s mental and physical health and financial and social well-being.
Michael Bertram, CEO of Frade stated that poverty is not confined to the unemployed and a broken fridge or washing machine can be a huge challenge for many working families managing on a limited budget. Frade, are a member of the National Reuse Network an alliance of over 100 furniture charities and Michael added that “working with our network of members, we are better able to reduce poverty, tackle waste and offer a better future for the most isolated individuals in our society”.
Frade, work closely with our Local Councils who typically are a great source of help through Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) schemes. They offer crisis grants to people in immediate need and can be used for fuel, food and essential white goods and furniture.
However, the campaign group End Furniture Poverty has found that more than 13 million people in England live in areas with no scheme, at a time when the cost of living crisis is hitting those on low incomes. Who stated that over the past 10 years, the cost of furniture, furnishings and carpets has risen by 32% and household appliances up 17%.
Claire Donovan of End Furniture Poverty which helps provide basic furnishings and appliances: ‘The need is great.’ Claire added “We know from the huge increases in food bank use that people are struggling. If they can’t afford food, how can they afford to replace a broken cooker? And with the increase to fuel bills and National Insurance contributions, along with rising inflation, the need for support is urgent”.
Recent reports [Feb 2022] by End Furniture Poverty – www.endfurniturepoverty.org - have shown that investing in local welfare makes excellent financial sense as it saves money in other areas.
Claire Donovan stated “the value of benefits has gone down, wages have gone down and there are these rising costs. It was hard, to begin with, and it’s becoming insurmountable now. With the increase in fuel bills and national insurance contributions and rising inflation, the need for support is urgent.”
Frade has learnt over many years’ experience that directly helping someone with furniture, avoids the high-cost credit, which can mean beneficiaries avoid rent arrears, leading to eviction and the local authority having to pay for temporary accommodation.
Charitable support, also helps a family provide a bed for their child and gives them somewhere safe to store their food or prepare a meal. Rising prices and pressure on incomes mean millions are unable to afford basic items for their home.
It may be a mother and child sharing a mattress on the floor, the family with no cooker who can only make hot food that requires hot water from a kettle, or the family with no wardrobes or chests of drawers so clothes are stored in black bags on the floor. Frade has also helped families where there is no table for children to eat from or do their homework. A simple donation of a table can go a long way to help.
When there isn’t enough money for fuel or food, where does the money for furniture and appliances come from?
Turn2us’s most recent survey, of 6,000 people in August last year, shows that 8% were living without a washing machine – the equivalent of 4.5 million people nationwide. Meanwhile, 7% were living without a freezer, and similar numbers reported having no oven or fridge. Not having these basic items has all kinds of knock-on effects on people’s lives: homes are uncomfortable and cold, families are unable to prepare decent meals, and they have to pay a premium to do their laundry.
While second-hand items are available, they are difficult to collect if, you don’t have a car. Charities can and do offer very inexpensive delivery services.
Freedom of information requests made by the End Furniture Poverty found that in July 2021, one in five local authorities in England did not offer an LWA scheme, up from one in seven the previous year. The number of applications increased by 91% in 2020-21, and the number accepted went up by 157%, but the average pay-out went down by £29 to £146. About a third of the funds were used for furniture and appliances.
End Furniture Poverty group found one in four schemes was only available as a last resort, with applicants needing to have attempted all other options first, including universal credit advances, credit unions and charities.
The group called on the government to commit to spending £485m a year on funding for three years and improve its guidance, giving a single name to the schemes and setting criteria for grants. “This will give local authorities the time and certainty to expand on existing schemes or open new ones where those have closed,” Donovan says.
For more information call 01642 608791 - if you can help support furniture poverty.