Low income and high housing costs leave millions facing losing their home

Research from Shelter and YouGov shows that more than one in 10 working families in England have resorted to selling possessions to cover their housing costs

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The Independent Online

More than 3m households are on a financial knife-edge, when just a small drop in income could put them at risk of losing their home, according to shock statistics from a new analysis of Government data by the University of St Andrews which is published today.

The analysis found that one in eight households in the UK are both living on low incomes and paying unaffordable housing costs.

Some 625,000 of these households have already missed at least one essential household bill payment, such as a fuel bill.

The findings were reinforced by additional figures from Shelter - which commissioned the report - and YouGov showing that more than one in 10 working families in England have resorted to selling 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 “Too many people wake up every day knowing that just one piece of bad luck could tip them over the cliff-edge and tumbling towards the tragedy of losing their home.

“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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