More than a quarter (27%) of parents with children under the age of 18 had to cut winter spending to meet housing costs according to new research released today by housing charity Shelter (link to website). Some 15% of the parents interviewed also said they had to economise on Christmas food and gifts.
A shortage of affordable homes has left families struggling with sky-high housing costs, says the charity, while last year more than 100,000 people phoned its helpline for housing debt advice.
One respondent, Michelle said: “We cut back on everything to pay the rent, including food. My husband Kevin became self-employed last year and is now paid weekly. This has meant we are already in arrears on our rent to the private landlord and on our council tax.
"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," she added.
Families struggling with housing costs are advised to:
- Seek advice as early as possible to avoid eviction
- Prioritise mortgage or rent payments, ahead of credit card or payday loan debts
- Seek early help from mortgage lenders
- Seek help with rent arrears and investigate claiming Housing Benefit
- Respond promptly to calls and letters and keep notes of conversations.
Read the full story about Shelter's findings on the BBC website
Support from Turn2us
Turn2us recently ran the No Cold Homes campaign, with the aim of raising awareness of those struggling with the cost of fuel and the support available to them. During the campaign, there were over 405,000 visits to our website, with 121,162 completed benefits calculations and 40,363 grants searches.
Turn2us Chief Executive Simon Hopkins commented:
"No one should have to live in a cold home this winter through fear of fuel costs. This fresh research, released today, shows that more must be done to support those struggling, and that is why our No Cold Homes campaign was so important.
"We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people and many will suffer this winter. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy and housing costs.
"I would urge anyone concerned with how they, or a relative or friend, are going to be able to afford energy or housing costs to visit our 'No Cold Homes' Find Support section which has links to our Benefits Calculator, Grants Search and information on energy schemes or our section on Help with Housing Costs."