More than one in three (37 per cent) working parents in England are having to cut back on buying food to be able to afford their rent or mortgage, new research from Shelter revealed yesterday (29 August)
The YouGov poll for the housing and homelessness charity also found that one in ten parents had had to skip whole meals to meet their housing costs.
Shelter is warning that millions of working families, whose monthly budgets are already stretched to breaking point by high housing costs, are at serious risk of losing their home if they face any sudden cut in income or further price rises.
The research highlights the very real tough choices parents are having to make to stay in their homes. Over a million working parents said they had put off buying their children new shoes, and one in ten had put off buying new school uniforms to pay their rent or mortgage.
The government’s recent English Housing Survey shows that households are spending 28 per cent of weekly incomes just on their housing costs. For private renters, this went up to 40 per cent.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "No parent should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the roof over their children’s heads. These shocking figures show that millions of us are having to make these kinds of agonising choices every day.
"‘No matter how hard ordinary families work, with housing swallowing so much of their monthly budget, any drop in income can all too quickly put their home at serious risk. We desperately need the government to make sure there is a safety net that’s strong enough to catch families who fall on hard times, and stop them from going through the tragedy of losing their home."
Citizens Advice dealt with nearly 87,000 social housing rent arrears problems last year, up 10 per cent on 2012. Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: "Housing costs have left some families standing on a financial cliff edge. Working households that have already cut back on spending to get by could find themselves in the red if interest rates go up.
"Citizens Advice research shows three in five households are worried about the impact of rising bills this year, with over half forced to cut spending to balance the books. The competing pressures of sky-high childcare bills, rising energy costs and wages which are consistently below inflation, mean many people are struggling to pay for the roof over their head."
Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the National Housing Federation, said: "As house building fails to keep pace with population growth, the shortage is making housing increasingly unaffordable. The rising demand for homes and a lack of supply is also pushing private rents up so people are being forced to make difficult choices on which bills to pay and which essentials to go without. We need to build 250,000 homes every year to solve the country’s housing crisis within a generation."