Research commissioned by Shelter has found that nearly one in five rent or mortgage-payers has borrowed money to cover their housing costs.
The charity says 2% – the equivalent of nearly a million people in Britain – have taken out a payday loan to help pay the rent or mortgage.
In the past year, the number of people going to Shelter because they can’t pay their rent or mortgage has risen by almost a third. But the charity’s advisers are warning that for every person seeking help, many will be keeping their problems hidden.
The survey found that as many as one in four people would feel too ashamed to ask for help if they couldn’t cover their housing costs – and even more wouldn’t admit their problems to family or friends.
Liz Clare, a helpline adviser for Shelter, stressed that there is no shame in struggling with your rent or mortgage:
“These days, we could all find ourselves at risk of losing our home. Falling behind with the rent or mortgage can happen to any of us and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone at the school gates, in the supermarket or at work could be silently struggling.
“Times are tough, and we often hear from people who’ve reached crisis point because they haven’t felt able to ask for help earlier. Making the first step to ask for help is difficult, but advice from an expert early on can make the difference between losing your home and keeping it.”
Shelter is urging people to get advice early through its website, helpline or face-to-face services for the best chance of keeping their home. Advice can range from negotiating ‘mortgage holidays’ with lenders to helping with realistic repayment plans for rent arrears.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Sky-high housing costs, stagnating wages and the high cost of living have taken their toll. The economy as a whole might be on the up, but losing our home could now be a frighteningly real prospect for any one of us.
“Our message today is don’t keep your worries to yourself: Shelter’s expert advisers can be the difference between keeping your home and losing it.”