One million people have used a payday loan to help pay for their rent or mortgage over the past 12 months, according to research published by Shelter.
The charity is stressing the dangers of turning to short-term, high interest credit as a way to help meet housing costs.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Payday loans may seem like a quick fix, but the huge interest charges mean things can quickly spiral out of control. We know it can feel like there’s nowhere to turn to but no one has to struggle alone – Shelter can help.
“It’s vital that anyone who’s having difficulty paying their rent or mortgage gets advice now. Don’t wait until things reach breaking point later in the year – it could leave your family’s home at risk.”
The YouGov survey carried out on behalf of the housing charity also showed that around 1.5 million people are falling behind with their housing costs - putting themselves at risk of repossession or eviction.
The survey found the number of people constantly struggling to pay their rent or mortgage has increased 44 percent over the past year, with 7.8 million people now facing a monthly battle to keep a roof over their heads.
Mandy, a mum of three from West Sussex, took out a payday loan after falling behind with her rent. She explained: “I felt I had to take out the loan but found I couldn’t pay it back the next month. It’s just made everything ten times worse. I am at my wits end and it can just feel completely hopeless.”
Shelter is warning that as austerity measures start to bite this year more people who are already feeling the squeeze could be at risk of homelessness.
Campbell Robb added: “We’ve already seen a rise in demand for our services as more and more people struggle to keep up with their rent or mortgage. Sadly they’re discovering there is little left of the housing safety net that was once there to help them get back on their feet.”
Shelter is urging anyone struggling with their housing costs to seek advice early at shelter.org.uk/housinghelp to help them get on top of their payments and stay in their home.