Are Nurses Turning to Foodbanks?

In last night’s Scottish politics leadership debate, Nurse, Clare Austin, made a strong attack against First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on the level of pay nurses are receiving working in the NHS.

Nicola Stugeon, to her credit, sympathised that the 1% pay cap for public sector workers had went on too long. She even explained how her own sister worked in the NHS and often told her how difficult it was for workers in the public sector and particularly the NHS.

However, in the aftermath, 100’s of social media users and journalists began trawling Clare Austin’s social media accounts and began posting photos of her drinking wine, going on holiday and eating out, resulting in them questioning whether what she said about having to turn to foodbanks on occassions was credible.

It made me think. Is there circumstances a Scottish nurse may have to turn to a foodbank? Are there circumstances when someone trying to hold down a job, a house and raise a family may become so desperate they may not have enough to get by some months?

Financial Statement

I, therefore, drafted an income and expenditure for a ficitonal nurse on a gross salary of £30,000 per year, which is a relatively high salary for a nurse. See nurse pay bands here. I don’t know what Clare earns, but some people are posting on the internet she gets £22,500.

My nurse is a single parent, lives in Edinburgh, doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol and needs a reliable car for her shift work and a mobile phone for her and her daughter. She has life and critical illness insurance, and her flat is in band C for council tax (she gets a 25% single person discount), but could easily be in a higher band. She takes her lunches to work and no provision has been made for a pension.

I have not included contents insurance for her property, or her TV licence payments.

Her situation is what I would expect to be typical, but could easily be worse. She has no debts and no payments have been allowed for paying debts, other than a £40 per month banks charges.

At the end of the day, she has £88 per week to survive on  and from this she has to buy for her and her daughter food, clothing, cleaning products for her home, and christmas and birthday presents. It assumes her daughter doesn’t get pocket money and takes her lunches to school with her.

So is it reasonable, to assume such a person may have to turn occassionally to a food bank? What I would say, is its reasonable to assume that each month this woman has to make hard financial decisions, is probably not saving and some months will just not get by. If she has any significant debts, its likely at some point she will be made bankrupt.

INCOME £ per month
Salary net 1,973
Tax Credits    173
Child Benefit      88
Total 2,234
Expenditure £ per month
Edinburgh Rent (2 bedroom)    702
Council Tax    105
Childcare    433
Travel    200
Mobile      60
Gas/Electricity    150
HP Car    100
Life Insurance (including critical Illness)      60
Bank Charges      40
Total  1850
Disposable Income    384
Disposable Income (weekly)       88