OVER three million people fear missing rent or mortgage payments this January because of ‘sky high housing costs’, putting them at risk of being evicted, a Shelter report released yesterday shows.
Shelter said: ‘Millions might be facing a not-so-happy new year, as new research reveals one in nine rent or mortgage payers in Britain – the equivalent of 3.2 million people – are worried they will be unable to make payments this January.
‘Research from Shelter and YouGov paints a bleak picture for many this winter, with 59% of rent or mortgage payers revealing they are already struggling to keep up with their housing costs.
‘Shelter is warning that ignoring money worries rather than seeking advice could lead to people’s home being put at risk.
‘Worryingly, more than a quarter (26%) of people said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if struggling with housing payments.’
The charity said it has seen a surge in the number of people visiting its website for advice on rent and mortgage arrears, and is urging anyone having difficulty meeting their housing costs to get help as early as possible.
Shelter cited examples of families facing rent difficulties. It said of one family: ‘A mother-of-two Katharine from Yorkshire works unpredictable shifts and lives in constant fear she won’t be able to meet her rent payments each month.’
Katharine said: ‘I work every hour I can to support my family but each month I wonder if I’m going to able to make my rent, and I’m expecting things to be especially bad after Christmas, even though we cut back on spending as much as we could.
‘I’ve borrowed money from family and even had to stop paying bills to keep the roof over my children’s heads. It’s horrible to start another year not knowing if I can afford to keep my home.’
Shelter’s helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said: ‘Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are feeling overwhelmed by mounting rent or mortgage bills, as the increasing pressure of sky high housing costs continues to take its toll.
‘Many have spent a long time thinking they have nowhere to turn and are often close to breaking point by the time they come to us.
‘I spoke to a lady recently who was sick with worry for months because she couldn’t meet her mortgage payments and felt too ashamed to ask for help.
‘When finally a court notice landed on her doorstep she came to us and we were able to help the family keep their home.’