Thousands of rent or mortgage payers across the South East might be facing a not-so-happy new year, as new research reveals one in eight are worried they will be unable to make payments this January.
Research from Shelter and YouGov paints a bleak picture for many this winter, with 55% of rent or mortgage payers in the South East revealing they are already struggling to keep up with their housing costs.
Shelter is warning that ignoring money worries rather than seeking advice could lead to people’s home being put at risk. Worryingly, over a quarter (26%) of people in the region said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if struggling with housing payments.
The charity has seen a surge in the number of people visiting its website for advice on rent and mortgage arrears, and is urging anyone having difficulty meeting their housing costs to get help as early as possible.
Mother-of-two Katharine works unpredictable shifts and lives in constant fear she won’t be able to meet her rent payments each month.
Katharine said: “I work every hour I can to support my family but each month I wonder if I’m going to able to make my rent, and I’m expecting things to be especially bad Christmas, even though we cut back on spending as much as we could. I’ve borrowed money from family and even had to stop paying bills to keep the roof over my children’s heads. It’s horrible to start another year not knowing if I can afford to keep my home.”
Shelter’s helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said: “Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are feeling overwhelmed by mounting rent or mortgage bills, as the increasing pressure of sky high housing costs continues to take its toll.
“Many have spent a long time thinking they have nowhere to turn and are often close to breaking point by the time they come to us. If you’re in this situation, it’s so important to remember you’re not alone and that help is available.
“I spoke to a lady recently who was sick with worry for months because she couldn’t meet her mortgage payments and felt too ashamed to ask for help. When finally a court notice landed on her doorstep she came to us and we were able to help the family keep their home.
“We all understand how tempting it is to bury your head in the sand, but advice from Shelter is only a click or a phone call away – so get advice early to prevent things from spiralling out of control.”
For free and independent advice from Shelter visit shelter.org.uk or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444