People in the South East are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, but hiding their problem by taking out risky loans or saying they would keep it secret from family and friends, says Shelter today.
New research commissioned by the charity found that nearly one in six rent or mortgage payers in the South East has borrowed money to cover their housing costs. Shelter say that across the country, two per cent of rent or mortgage payers, the equivalent of nearly a million people in Britain, said they had taken out a ‘payday’ loan to help pay the rent or mortgage.
The survey of 4,000 adults, carried out by YouGov, found that over one in five (22%) people in the South East would feel too ashamed to ask for help if they couldn’t pay their rent or mortgage, while 37% of people in the South East wouldn’t admit if they were struggling with their housing costs to family or friends.
In a sign of the tough financial climate, last year the number of people helped by Shelter because they can’t pay their rent or mortgage rose by almost a third.
But the charity is warning that for every person turning to Shelter for help, many will be keeping their rent or mortgage problems hidden.
Shelter is highlighting that as times get tougher there is no shame in struggling to pay rent or mortgage, and that its experts are there to help. It’s urging people to get advice early through its website, helpline or face to face services to give them the best chance of getting back on stable footing and keeping their home. Advice can range from negotiating ‘mortgage holidays’ with their lender or helping with realistic re-payment plans for arrears.
Katharine Whittaker lives with her two children and despite being in work she often struggles to pay the rent, which puts the biggest strain on her monthly budget. She says:
“It’s very difficult when it comes to making ends meet and paying for the roof over our heads. The rent takes at least half my wages. It’s absolutely horrible trying to juggle the rent and other bills like this.”
“I’ve borrowed money from family and I’ve had to ask the bank for an overdraft just to keep our heads above water. It’s a constant worry thinking about finding extra money.”
Liz Clare, a helpline adviser for Shelter, said:
“These days, we could all find ourselves at risk of losing our home. Falling behind with the rent or mortgage can happen to any of us and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone at the school gates, in the supermarket or at work could be silently struggling.”
“Times are tough, and we often hear from people who’ve reached crisis point because they haven’t felt able to ask for help earlier. Making the first step to ask for help is difficult, but advice from an expert early on can make the difference between losing your home and keeping it”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said:
“Sky-high housing costs, stagnating wages and the high cost of living have taken their toll. The economy as a whole might be on the up, but losing our home could now be a frighteningly real prospect for any one of us.”
“We’re now hearing from record numbers of families up and down the country who are desperately struggling to keep the roof over their heads. But the truth is, we’re more worried about the people we don’t see.”
“Our message today is don’t keep your worries to yourself: Shelter’s expert advisers can be the difference between keeping your home and losing it.”
Shelter is asking everyone to share its ‘Pass It On’ advice message to friends and family on their social networks this month. Visit shelter.org.uk/advice or follow @Shelter on Twitter for more information.