Thousands of people in the North East risk losing their homes this month, new research has revealed.
One in 13 rent or mortgage payers across the region are worried they will be unable to make payments this January, homeless charity Shelter has claimed.
The research, conducted in partnership with YouGov, also revealed 62% of people are already struggling to keep up with their housing costs.
The figures have prompted the charity to warn that ignoring money worries rather than seeking advice could lead to people’s home being put at risk.
A quarter of people in the region said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if struggling with housing payments.
Shelter has seen a surge in the number of people visiting its website for advice on rent and mortgage arrears, and is urging anyone having difficulty meeting their housing costs to get help as early as possible.
One person who sought help was mother-of-two Katharine, who works unpredictable shifts and lives in constant fear she won’t be able to meet her rent payments each month.
“I work every hour I can to support my family but each month I wonder if I’m going to able to make my rent, and I’m expecting things to be especially bad at Christmas, even though we cut back on spending as much as we could.
“I’ve borrowed money from family and even had to stop paying bills to keep the roof over my children’s heads.
“It’s horrible to start another year not knowing if I can afford to keep my home.”
Shelter’s helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said:
“Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are feeling overwhelmed by mounting rent or mortgage bills, as the increasing pressure of sky high housing costs continues to take its toll.
“Many have spent a long time thinking they have nowhere to turn and are often close to breaking point by the time they come to us. If you’re in this situation, it’s so important to remember you’re not alone and that help is available.
“I spoke to a lady recently who was sick with worry for months because she couldn’t meet her mortgage payments and felt too ashamed to ask for help. When finally a court notice landed on her doorstep she came to us and we were able to help the family keep their home.
“We all understand how tempting it is to bury your head in the sand, but advice from Shelter is only a click or a phone call away – so get advice early to prevent things from spiralling out of control.”
For free and independent advice from Shelter, visit shelter.org.uk or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444
Shelter’s top 5 tips to avoid eviction or repossession:
- Get expert advice. If you are struggling to pay your rent, talk to an expert adviser who can take you through your options and advise the next best steps for you. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/advice or call Shelter’s free helpline on 0808 800 4444.
- Make the mortgage or rent your priority. Paying your mortgage or rent should always be your number one priority. If you have other debts such as credit cards and phone bills you can take action to deal with these separately.
- Respond to letters and phone calls. It’s natural to want to keep your head down and hope it’ll sort itself out but it’s important to read everything your mortgage lender, landlord or letting agent sends to you. Keep records of every letter and phone call.
- Have a rainy day plan. It can take just one thing, like losing your job or falling ill, to put your home at risk. Avoid payday loans, there are usually much safer and cheaper alternatives.
Turn up for court hearings. If the worst comes to the worst, make sure you attend the possession hearing so that you can put your case to the judge. If you don’t have legal representation you can be assigned a court duty solicitor on the day. Get advice as soon as you get the hearing date to give yourself the best possible chance.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 05 Jan 2015
Hundreds of people in Hartlepool have been forced to plead for help after racking up personal debts worth £7.5m in just a year.
Shocking new figures reveal Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau supported 1,500 people with debt and money advice over a 12-month period – with the average debt a staggering £16,000.
Worried officials at the Park Road-based CAB say they are very concerned with the high level of personal debt their clients have, some of which is more than £100,000.
Not everyone in money trouble seeks help or advice from the CAB either so the £7.5m figure – which is similar to previous years – is likely to be even higher.
Personal debt includes everything from credit cards, personal loans, pay-day loans, mortgage and rent arrears, council tax arrears, catalogue debts and bank overdrafts.
The figures relate to the period between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. In 2012, the figure was around £8m and worried officials say there has been no “let-up”.
Joe Michna, CAB manager, said: “There has been no let up or reduction in the number of people contacting us with debt related problems.
“The debt levels, given that they are average figures, are concerning.
“While the average debt may be £16,000 excluding mortgages, some clients have debts of well over £50,000 when they contact us.
“We deal with clients who have personal debts of everything from a few thousand through to £100,000.”
Officials say the golden rule for those experiencing money trouble is to seek help or advice early.
The CAB offers two services, a Debt Advice Service and a Money Advice Service, which offers help and support from everything from financial planning to budgeting.
CAB staff aim to re-arrange and improve debt-ridden clients’ financial affairs by gathering information on a client’s indebtedness, confirming household income, alerting clients to other potential sources of income, and identifying priority debts.
Once a full and complete picture of a client’s financial situation has been established, the CAB team can help to identify the most appropriate option for dealing with the particular client circumstances which include self-help support packages, negotiations with client creditors and bankruptcy applications.
The debt and money advice services gave advice and assistance to a combined 1,500 clients.
Mr Michna added: “The golden rule for people who have gotten themselves into debt is to seek advice early.
“We are fortunate in that we can offer two services to local people – a full debt advice service and also a money advice service.
“The money advice service can offer advice on budgeting, financial planning and income maximisation.
“We then have our full debt advice service which offers advice and assistance with debt relief orders, bankruptcy and individual voluntary arrangements as well arranging repayment plans with creditors.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 16 July 2014
Successive Government policies that unfairly target the young are making this the worst time to grow up in decades, campaigners say.
High levels of youth unemployment, increased university tuition fees and the difficulty of getting a mortgage have been cited as problems affecting young people, along with changes to the benefit system and cuts to youth support services.
People working with young people in the North East say they are being disproportionately targeted in the Government austerity cuts so that Ministers can protect older people who are statistically more likely to vote.
And there have been warnings that the situation is creating a “a generation without hope” who do not feel part of society.
Liz Emerson, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, a national charity set up to ensure fairness between the generations, said: “This is the first period in recent history where children will have worst standards of living than their parents and their grandparents.
Successive Governments have put the interests of older generations before the interests of younger ones. They’ve taken away the EMA, they’ve taken away Sure Start schemes for young people, they’re taking away their travel concessions.”
Concerns about the young being unfairly targeted came earlier this month when Chancellor George Osborne signalled benefit cuts for the under-26s just a day after Prime Minister David Cameron said he would “triple lock” the state pension, which accounts for half of all welfare spending.
Jeff Hurst, who runs the Newcastle YMCA and is vice-chair of the city’s children’s trust board, said: “I was brought up in a generation where anything was possible and everything was positive. Now we are creating a generation without hope.
“What I see is fantastic young people who are motivated, who are clever, who are innovative who are able, but who are very frustrated.”
Mr Hurst said the combined effect of higher pension ages, more graduates, and a flood of axed public sector workers were squeezing the young out of the labour market until far into their twenties.
The situation is particularly acute in the North East, which has the highest rate of youth unemployment at nearly 24% and the worst score of any region on the Intergenerational Foundation’s age fairness index.
Geoff Mount of the charity Barnados, which has a number of youth projects in the region, said: “Times are tough for young people. Funding for courses is being cut, young people now are having to take out loans, and EMA has been taken away. We’ve got a bursary scheme in place but that doesn’t meet in my opinion the needs of those young people in greatest financial need. There are fewer job opportunities out there than ever before.”
Workers also cited a squeeze on housing, with last week’s ONS figures showing a quarter of 34-year-olds are now living with their parents.
The number of “boomerang children” has soared by 25% in the last 17 years, despite the youth population remaining the same, with under-24s in the North East the least likely in the country to have a mortgage.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 27 Jan 2014
People in the North East are twice as likely to fear having to sleep rough next year if they can’t pay their bills than people in the south east, a survey has shown.
The stark contrast was revealed in a poll by St Mungo’s, which said one in five people, 21 per cent, in the north east fear they will have to sleep rough if they are unable to pay their household bills in 2014, compared to one in ten in the south east, 9 per cent.
Overall in Britain, more than half expressed concern about being able to pay their household bills – including rent and mortgage – with 13 per cent saying they were worried about having to sleep rough.
More than a third, 32 per cent, of people said they were concerned that they would not have the money or opportunity to find alternative accommodation and 29 per cent said they would not know where to turn to for help.
Charles Fraser, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘It is clear that people are trying very hard to keep their heads above water but are worried about going under. There are fewer life belts and less dry land than there was. We see no reason to believe that demand for our services will diminish in 2014.
‘While recognising that much good work is done for those in need, it is not a good time to be at the bottom of the pile. Those who are responsible for preventing homelessness need to discharge that responsibility better in order to prevent homelessness before it starts and help people before their health, their relationships and much more is lost.’
The ComRes survey, commissioned St Mungo’s, polled 2,028 people between 20- 21 of November.
Source – Inside Housing, 11 Dec 2013
An increasing number of families in the North East are facing homelessness this winter, according to the latest statistics.
Calls to charity Shelter have increased by 12% since last year, and the number of people in the North East who called the Shelter helpline from 2012 to 2013 reached 2,490, the equivalent of more than 200 callers per month.
The charity say the figures reflect the growing number of people struggling to cope with the rising costs of living coupled with stagnating wages, and expect more families will find it increasingly difficult to keep a roof over their heads, especially as bills mount in the run-up to Christmas.
Shelter helpline adviser Liz Clare said the Christmas period is the most difficult time of year for her and colleagues. :
“The threat of homelessness is devastating at any time of year, but it seems to get worse around Christmas as the strains of the holidays close in and the weather gets cold.
“One Christmas Eve I answered a call from a mum with a disabled son. They were evicted from their home that night and had to sleep on the streets in the cold. We managed to find them a place to stay, but I’ll never forget the devastation in her voice. The sad fact is that eviction notices can come at any time of year. “
“I’ve never seen the helpline as busy as it has been this year.”
Jeremy Cripps, the chief executive of charity Children North East warned the figures could also increase following Christmas as people struggle to cope with the costs of the festive period and fall into arrears.
“What we have noticed is that a high proportion of families are there because of rent arrears or because their homes have been repossessed because of missed mortgage payments.”