Housing costs forcing working parents to cut back on food

29 August 2014

Working parents forced to cut back

Over one in three working parents in England are having to cut back on buying food to be able to afford their rent or mortgage, new research from Shelter reveals today.

The YouGov poll also found that one in ten parents had had to skip whole meals to be able to pay for their homes.

Shelter is warning that millions of working families, whose monthly budgets are already stretched to breaking point by high housing costs, are at serious risk of losing their home if they face any sudden cut in income or further price rises.

The research highlights the very real tough choices parents are having to make to stay in their homes. Over a million working parents said they’d put off buying their children new shoes, and one in ten said they’d had to put off buying new school uniforms to pay their rent or mortgage.

The government’s recent English Housing Survey shows that households are spending 28% of weekly incomes just on their housing costs. For private renters, this went up to 40%.

Katherine and her husband live in Essex with their two young children. Even though they both work full time, it’s a constant struggle to pay for their home each month.

Katherine said: ‘My husband and I don’t have breakfast because we can’t afford it, and we miss evening meals two or three times a month to help with the mortgage. We’ve really had to cut back on the basics, and I even had to send our daughter to school in an old uniform that I knew was too small; it made me feel horrible. We are already at breaking point, so I honestly don’t know what we’d do if our financial situation got worse; it really frightens me.’

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘No parent should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the roof over their children’s heads. These shocking figures show that millions of us are having to make these kinds of agonising choices every day.

‘No matter how hard ordinary families work, with housing swallowing so much of their monthly budget, any drop in income can all too quickly put their home at serious risk. We desperately need the government to make sure there is a safety net that’s strong enough to catch families who fall on hard times, and stop them from going through the tragedy of losing their home.’

Anyone who is worried about losing their home can get free, independent housing advice at shelter.org.uk/advice