High housing costs in England are causing many families to cut back on heating and winter clothing to ensure they meet mortgage and rent payments, according to homelessness charity Shelter.
Over a quarter (27%) of parents of under-18s surveyed reported that they had to cut winter spending to meet their housing costs.
Housing Costs Causing Families to Suffer Through Winter, Warns Shelter
Additionally, 10% feared that they would be unable to pay rents or mortgages in January.
The Government insists that its measures to tackle the deficit are helping more people stay in their homes.
A lack of affordable homes has left families struggling with extortionate housing costs, says Shelter. Last year alone, more than 100,000 people called Shelter’s helpline for housing debt advice.
Households struggling with housing costs are advised to:
- Seek advice as soon as possible, to avoid eviction.
- Prioritise mortgage or rent payments before credit card or payday loan debts.
- Seek help from mortgage lenders as early as possible.
- Seek help with rent arrears and look into housing benefit.
- Respond promptly to calls and letters and keep notes of conversations.
Michelle is a mother from Cambridge. Her husband Kevin is a builder who became self-employed last year. He is now paid weekly and Michelle explains the difficulties: “We cut back on everything to pay the rent, including food.”
The family is now in rent arrears to a private landlord and is behind on Council Tax. They fear that another missed payment could put them at risk of eviction.
Of the 853 parents studied, 15% said they had to cut back on Christmas presents and food.
Michelle, a student midwife, continues: “Even though my husband works as many hours as he can, it’s constantly hand-to-mouth. When the children are at school, the heating isn’t on at all, and over Christmas we had to cut back on presents and clothing.”1
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government comments: “The reality is mortgage repossession claims continue to fall and are their lowest since 1987.
“This is thanks to our work to tackle the deficit and keep interest rates low, helping more families to stay in their hard-earned homes.
“We’ve introduced measures to ensure tenants get a fair deal and are aware of their rights. We’ve also doubled the housing budget to deliver over 400,000 affordable homes and the number of new homes is up 25% in the last year.”1
YouGov conducted the survey of a representative and weighted sample of adults late last year.