Over 370,000 working parents in the East of England (38%) are cutting back on buying food in a bid to help pay their rent or mortgage, new research from Shelter reveals this week.
The YouGov poll of working families also found that more than one in ten parents in the East – equivalent to 110,000 people - had gone to the extreme of skipping meals to help pay for their home.
Shelter is warning that hundreds of thousands of ordinary working families across the East of the country, 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 cost rises.
The charity’s research further highlighted the tough choices that parents are having to make to stay in their homes, with nearly 140,000 working parents in the East (14%) saying they had put off buying their children new shoes and one in ten saying they had to delay buying their children a new school uniform in the last year so that they could pay their rent or mortgage.
Recent figures from the government’s English Housing Survey show that households are spending 28% of their weekly income on housing costs alone, rising to 40% for private renters.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “No parent should be forced to choose between putting food on your table and paying for the roof over your children’s heads. These shocking figures show that millions of us are having to make these kind of agonising choices every day.
“Sky-high housing costs and cuts to support are leaving many families trapped on a financial knife-edge. Every day at Shelter we see the proof that right now just one piece of bad luck, like a sudden job loss or illness, could tip any of us into a spiral that ends in homelessness.
“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.”
Anyone who is worried about losing their home can contact Shelter for free, independent advice. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/advice or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444.