Housing costs put 3.4 million households on a financial knife-edge

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Housing costs put 3.4 million households on a financial knife-edge

More than 3 million households across the country are living on a knife-edge where a small drop in income could cost them their home, new figures reveal today.

New analysis of government data by the University of St Andrews, on behalf of Shelter, found that 1 in 8 households in the UK are surviving on low incomes while paying unaffordable housing costs, putting them under huge financial pressure.

The research paints a worrying picture of families pushed close to breaking point, with further statistics showing that more than 1 in 10 working families in England have had to sell possessions to cover their housing costs.

Despite working full time, mum-of-two Lou, 42, spends so much of her income on rent that making ends meet is a constant struggle:

‘Even though I work every day and live in a small flat, the rent eats up so much money that it’s almost impossible to make do with what’s left over each month, and I can’t move because there’s nowhere else remotely near to work I could dream of affording.

‘I’ve had to borrow money off my friends and family to cover my rent, and I’m always making tough decisions on what I can and can’t afford for my youngest. Things have got so bad that I’ve even missed paying bills because I had to put food on the table, and that’s when the debts start to mount up.

‘It’s such an uphill battle. I’ve faced losing my home before and I live in dread of having to go through that again. The idea of losing my job just doesn’t bear thinking about.’

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said that too many families are living close to a financial cliff-edge:

‘Every day at Shelter we hear from people who, through no fault of their own, are finding it impossible to keep up with sky-high housing costs. It’s terrifying to think that many of us are resorting to avoiding bills or selling possessions in a desperate bid to make ends meet.

‘The government must make sure families who are already battling to keep their heads above water don’t slip through the growing holes in our safety net, and into a downward spiral which could result in the loss of their home.’

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