Shelter: 'Families cut back on heating or clothing to pay rent'

Families are cutting back on heating to pay rent or a mortgage according to Shelter. Credit: Peter Byrne / PA Wire/Press Association Images

More than 2.7 million parents across England are being forced to cut back on winter heating or clothes to meet the cost of their rent or mortgage, according to research from housing charity Shelter.

The rising cost of housing also means many families are also worried about being able to afford to pay their rent or mortgage in 2016.

The housing charity found that one in four of parents have cut back on either using energy to heat their home or buying winter clothing to help meet the cost of keeping a roof over their head this winter.

15% said they had already cut back on Christmas food shopping or dipped into savings meant for Christmas gifts in order to help pay for their housing.

Shelter said that more than 100,000 people have sought advice on housing debt from the charity's helpline, online or face-to-face services in the last year.

Shelter issued some advice for people dealing with rent and mortgage debt:

  • Ask for help early

  • Focus on housing costs first. Make sure paying your mortgage or rent is the priority. The priority is for you to keep your home, even if you are getting demands from credit card and payday loan companies.

  • Contact your lender as soon as possible if you are behind on the mortgage.

  • If you are struggling with rent arrears, see if you can claim housing benefit to help pay the rent.

  • Respond to letters and phone calls. Read everything your mortgage lender, landlord or letting agent sends to you. Keep records of every letter and phone call.

The research was based on a survey of more than 800 parents with children aged up to 18 years old across England.