North East Parents Going Hungry To Pay For Home

Over 850,000 working parents in the North of England are cutting back on buying food in a bid to help pay their rent or mortgage, according to housing charity Shelter.

Shockingly, the YouGov poll of working families also found that one in ten parents in the North - equivalent to more than 200,000 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 North 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 260,000 working parents in the North saying they had put off buying their children new shoes and 8% 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.

Katherine lives with her husband and their two young children. They both work full-time, but still find it a constant struggle to pay for their home each month.

She said: "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.

"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 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."