One in 10 people in the North West worry they can’t pay the rent or mortgage this January

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One in 10 people in the North West worry they can’t pay the rent or mortgage this January

Shelter research reveals household budgets ‘at breaking point’.   One in 10 people in the North West fear they won’t be able to afford to pay the rent or mortgage at the end of this month, according to new research from Shelter released today (3 January).

The research, based on a YouGov survey of over 4,000 British adults, suggests that millions of us across the country will be starting the New Year worried about whether we’ll be able to keep their home.

Shelter is warning that the ‘ostrich effect’ created as a result of feeling overwhelmed by money worries could put homes in the North West at risk this year if overdue rent or mortgage bills are put off until it’s too late.

The shocking findings revealed a worrying trend of people across the region unable to face up to their financial difficulties, with over one in four (26%) in the North West saying they’ve not opened post if they thought it was a bill or late payment reminder. An alarming one in five (19%) in the North West even admitted to putting it in the bin without opening it.

With more than one in three people in the North West (39%) expecting to struggle or fall behind with their rent or mortgage in 2014, the charity is urging anyone in the region worried about their housing costs to get help this month by visiting

Across the country the research found that families are currently struggling the most, with over two thirds of rent or mortgage payers with children (70%) struggling or falling behind with their payments, compared to 63% of the general population of rent or mortgage payers.

Shelter’s advisers regularly see cases of people putting off asking for help until they reach crisis point. As it gets tougher to pay all the bills, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn.

Liz Clare, a helpline adviser at Shelter, says: “We’re now seeing a stream of cases of families who’ve been unable to cope with mounting rent or mortgage bills and feel at breaking point. We all know how difficult it can be to face up to financial problems and we often hear from people who’ve been avoiding urgent post, but the reality is that not confronting it means things can spiral out of control.

“One caller to the helpline arrived home to her rented flat to find the locks had been changed. She hadn’t realised that a court hearing had even taken place because she hadn’t felt able to open her post after falling into arrears with her rent.

“We hear from people every day who are struggling, so you are not alone. Our message to anyone struggling to pay their rent or mortgage is that we’re on your side. Come to us for help early on for the best chance of keeping your home.”

Caroline Berens and her husband both work, but are struggling to keep up with their rent and worry about how they’ll cope in the year ahead.

Caroline says: “I go clammy just thinking about the bills. I do anything I can to avoid opening the post as I’m scared it will be another overdue bill. We do all we can to make ends meet – we’ve even sold our wedding rings and my mother-in-law has helped us with the rent – but we’re really worried about keeping our home in the coming months.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, says: “It’s a worrying sign of the times that so many of us are starting the New Year worried about how they’ll pay their rent or mortgage in 2014. Unless they get help, some of the families struggling now could face the very real prospect of losing their home this year.

“Despite recent discussion of an economic recovery, we know that a combination of high housing costs, wage freezes, and rising food and energy bills has created a nightmare scenario for many families that’s pushing them to breaking point.”

Shelter helps three million people a year with housing problems, through online, phone and face to face advice. Rent or mortgage payments should always be the top priority over other bills to prevent people from losing their homes.

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