Shelter reports surge in demand for homelessness services

Housing charity Shelter has reported a surge in demand for its homelessness advice services.

In the last year, the charity has recorded a 40% rise in the numbers of callers in England needing help with housing costs, arrears and other debt issues, while in the last six months, visitors to its online housing costs advice service have doubled.

Research by Shelter has revealed that people who are currently struggling to pay their rent or mortgage have few options for increasing their income. Only 21% said they or their partner are able to get extra hours at work, and just 26% said they could get a second job.

Last month the charity revealed that almost a third of people have already cut back on food in order to pay housing costs.

With further benefit cuts beginning to hit, Shelter is concerned that even more people will be left desperately trying to find the means to pay for their home.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: "This research highlights the frightening lack of options available to people who are fighting to keep a roof over their head. Sadly, with little remaining of the housing safety net meant to support them in tough times, many can quickly find themselves at risk of losing their home.

"Every day we speak to people who are on the brink and have nowhere left to turn. But getting early support from a charity like Shelter can help families get back in control of their finances and prevent the downward spiral that can ultimately lead to homelessness.

"Today we’re urging people to pass on the message to their friends and family that help is out there. Free, expert housing advice from Shelter can help people stay in their homes."