28 Aug 2014

One in three working parents ‘miss out on food to pay rent’

One in three working parents cut back on food to pay for housing costs, while one in ten say they or a partner skips meals says a new Shelter report. But the government says repossessions are falling.

Parents are cutting corners to pay for their rent or mortgage, said the housing charity Shelter, and are facing tough choices in caring for their children.

Based on a Yougov poll of working families, Shelter said that 1.1 million working parents with children under 18 (12.9 per cent) had put off buying their kids new shoes and one in ten had to delay buying their children a new school uniform in the last year, so that they could afford to pay for housing costs.

Contrary to Shelter’s claims, repossessions are actually at their lowest since 2007 and down almost a third since last year. Housing Minister Brandon Lewis

Over one in ten working adults with children said they or their partner had missed meals in the last 12 months to help pay for their home, equating to 880,000 parents.

The research is based on a poll of over 10,000 people, and the figures were projected across the country. The government’s English Housing Survey found that households are spending 28 per cent of their weekly income on housing costs alone, rising to 40 per cent for private renters.

‘I don’t have breakfast’
Katherine and her husband, who live in Essex with their two young children, both work full-time, but still struggle to pay housing costs.
“My husband and I don’t have breakfast because we can’t afford it, and we miss evening meals two or three times a month to help with the mortgage,” she told Shelter. “We’ve really had to cut back on the basics, and I even had to send our daughter to school in an old uniform that I knew was too small; it made me feel horrible. We are already at breaking point, so I honestly don’t know what we’d do if our financial situation got worse; it really frightens me.”

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 kind of agonising choices every day.

“Sky-high housing costs and cuts to support are leaving many families trapped on a financial knife-edge.”

But Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Contrary to Shelter’s claims, repossessions are actually at their lowest since 2007 and down almost a third since last year.

“Our efforts to tackle the record deficit we inherited have helped keep interest rates at a record low, meaning home ownership is at its most affordable since 2007 while private rent levels are falling in real terms.”