Concerns grow for greenkeepers as record numbers are now in debt
A charity that helps people who work in horticulture has said that there has been a record rise in greenkeepers with debt problems for the second year running.
Perennial said it saw a 17 percent rise in people coming to it for help in 2013 above 2012, which was also a record year, up by 25 percent from 2011, for the 175-year-old charity.
However, it said that greenkeepers and groundsmen was the fastest growing category of people coming to it, accounting to 23 percent of all new clients and 16 percent of the overall total. People who work in gardening represented the biggest group who needed financial help in 2013.
Nursery people are another growing category and are anticipated to need even more help this year, particularly as a result of recent floods.
Perennial said it helped 1,221 people access over £1.5 million, and is currently dealing with over £3 million worth of debt.
As well as an increase in numbers of people being helped, the increase in complexity of individual cases was also marked during 2013, due to continuing changes to the benefits system and cuts to what people are entitled to. Despite the tightening of benefit criteria, Perennial caseworkers helped their clients to claim £728,000 worth of statutory benefits, compared to £636,000 in 2012.
Sheila Thomson, director of services at Perennial, commented: “More and more people working in horticulture find themselves needing our help. In an industry that is typically low paid and suffers from a high rate of workplace injury, it’s no wonder that many are struggling to make ends meet.
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“Whilst we are proud that our help is making a difference to a growing number, we’d like to increase that number even more this year. In order to safeguard our services for those who need them, we are looking for support to help us raise an additional £175,000 during our 175th anniversary year.”
The charity, which provides financial support, debt advice, help with housing problems, care for the ill or elderly and support for children of horticulturists added that 86 percent of its new clients were under retirement age, representing a much younger age profile of greenkeepers who need help.