Homelessness warning

14 December 2010

Two children

Shelter has warned of a rise in homelessness as new research reveals the number of households in rent or mortgage arrears has more than doubled in the past year.

A YouGov survey of more than 2,000 Britons found the equivalent of 835,000 households (3%) admit to being in arrears with their rent or mortgage, compared to 405,000 households (2%) in October 2009.

Worryingly, households with children are most at risk (5%). Shelter estimates that more than 480,000 children are currently living in families that are falling behind with their basic housing costs.

The survey also showed increasing numbers of people fighting to stay afloat, as 3.7 million households (15%) said they constantly struggle to pay their rent or mortgage, an increase of almost double since October last year (8%).

With recent government figures showing the first sustained increase in homelessness since 2003, Shelter is warning that homelessness could be set to soar in 2011 as Government cuts to housing benefit and support for homeowners - along with predicted job losses and increases in living costs - push thousands of struggling households over the edge.

Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: ‘This research paints a disturbing picture of sharply rising numbers of people who face a daily struggle just to keep a roof over their heads.

‘With tough times ahead and homelessness already on the rise, we’re extremely concerned that this could be the beginning of a surge in the numbers of people losing their homes next year.'

Shelter is alarmed at recent Government proposals to reduce the rights of homeless people by placing them in insecure tenancies in the private rented sector, removing the stability that is so vital for homeless people trying to get back on their feet.

Mr Robb continued: ‘It is unbelievable that at a time when every two minutes someone faces the nightmare of losing their home, the Government is proposing to reduce the rights of homeless people who approach their local authorities for help.

‘We urge the Government to think again about the cumulative effects of its policies on people who are at real risk of losing their homes.’

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