5 June 2015, 06:42
Alarming new figures from housing charity Shelter have revealed almost 800 people in the East of England were put at risk of losing their home every week in the last year.
People living in Peterborough are also shown to be more at risk of their homes being reposessed, than anywhere else in the East.
In an analysis of statistics from the Ministry of Justice, the charity identified how many people are at risk of eviction and repossession as well as the 'home threat hotspots' across the East of England where people are most likely to face the risk of losing their home.
Peterborough topped the list in the East of England with as many as 1 in every 61 homes under threat of eviction or repossession, followed by Luton (1 in 70), Harlow (1 in 78) and Watford (1 in 81).
And these shocking figures are borne out by the sheer number of people visiting the Shelter website looking for advice on repossession and eviction, with 360,000 unique visits in the last year alone.
Case study: Bill Murdoch, 52, lost his job as a bus driver after suddenly losing the sight in one eye last year. Things started spiralling downwards when he missed two payments on a loan secured against his home, and he contacted Shelter for help.
"I'd always done my job with a smile on my face but once I lost my sight, it was over. The bills started to mount up and, even though we'd had been making the payments without fail for years, the loan company told us they were going to take away our home.
"Coming on top of losing my sight and my job, stressed doesn't begin to describe how I felt when our home was under threat. I have never been more terrified than I was on the day the court order came. The only thing that gave me hope was when I contacted Shelter who helped us through the court process. If it wasn't for that, we'd have lost everything."
Nadeem Khan, helpline adviser for Shelter, said: "We're hearing from thousands of people who have suffered in silence while they struggle to keep up with their rent or mortgage, and come to us in desperation when the court papers finally land on their doormat.
"It's natural to feel helpless in the face of mounting bills, but getting expert advice as soon as you start having trouble with housing payments can really help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and keep the threat of losing your home at bay."
Alison Mohammed, Shelter's director of services, said: "These staggering figures show just how many people are fighting to keep their families in their homes, after dealing with the double blow of welfare cuts and a drastic shortage of affordable housing.
"We're doing everything we can to give advice and support to anyone who faces losing the roof over their heads, but the government must also play its part by putting a stop to further cuts to the safety net which helps ordinary families stay in their homes."