Shelter calls on the government to strengthen the welfare safety net
Three million working families in England would face losing their homes if they lost their jobs, according to new research from Shelter and YouGov.
High housing costs combined with low levels of savings mean that one in three families would not be able to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they became unemployed.
One in five families would be unable to make their next rent payment if they lost their jobs.
‘These figures are stark a reminder that sky-high housing costs are leaving millions of working families stretched to breaking point,’ commented Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb.
These data shows that as Britain faces a period of major economic uncertainty, parents are not in a position to protect themselves or their children against the worst effects of the downturn.
‘In these uncertain times, the new government has a real chance to show working families they’re on their side,’ Robb continued, calling for a stronger welfare safety net. ‘It’s vital that if life does takes a turn for the worse, there’s enough support available for families so that they don’t go hurtling towards homelessness.’
While the new and old governments have celebrated record employment levels in Britain, a series of recent studies have emphasised that growing numbers of working families are living in extremely precarious conditions.
That’s the case for Lou, a full-time complex needs carer who, since she separated from her partner, has struggled to make ends and to keep up with the rent on her small flat.
‘I’m working hard, but it still makes me feel like a failure,’ Lou said. ‘I recently changed jobs and hit a rough patch when I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent.’
“An employer had given me some work and didn’t tell me that my hours wouldn’t be guaranteed, I lost a chunk of my income all of a sudden, and very nearly lost my home. It was really scary.
“There’s never a cushion. You’d think if you were working you’d be able to save a little bit every month, but it’s just not a possibility when just paying for the basics is so expensive.”
Recent government figures show that about half of UK adults have no savings. The UK also has the highest level of personal debt in the Western world.
As a result, both individuals and the economy at large are highly vulnerable to a crash.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.