Calls to charity helpline soar as families face losing their homes
A HOUSING charity has seen a rise of almost 40 per cent in the number of people turning to it for help in just two years.
• Calls to housing charity Shelter rise almost 40 per cent as effects of recession continue to be felt
• Graeme Brown: Figures are ‘deeply concerning’ but ’not surprising’
Shelter Scotland revealed that families were at risk of losing their home due to the crippling effects of the recession. The body received 1,925 calls to its free housing advice line last month – up from 1,636 in the same period last year and 37 per cent more than in July 2010.
Between January and July this year, 14,418 people got in touch with the charity seeking advice on housing issues, compared with just over 20,000 calls received in the whole of 2011.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said it was “deeply concerned” but “not surprised” about the rising number of people looking for help.
Mr Brown added: “In the face of stretched household budgets, the impact of welfare reform starting to bite and increases in the cost of living, even more families and individuals are at risk or losing their home.
“Already, for some, just a small increase in monthly outgoings could be the trigger that finally pushes them over the edge into a spiral of debt, repossession or eviction and possible homelessness.”
Shelter Scotland relies on public donations to fund its housing advice line, but Mr Brown warned the charity was itself facing “major challenges”.
He also said it was crucial for those experiencing money worries to seek help urgently, rather than leaving debt issues to spiral out of control. “When things start collapsing around them, people often put their head in the sand,” Mr Brown said.
“If they come to us sooner, we can do more to help – there’s always hope. We urge anyone who is experiencing problems in paying their bills to seek advice sooner rather than later by calling our free national helpline.”
David Bookbinder, head of policy and public affairs at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, said: “Any number of factors from mortgage rate increases, welfare reform or fuel bills hikes can be the last straw for many, whether they have a mortgage or rent their home.
“While the first piece of advice is always to seek advice, we would hope that, at a UK level, reports such as these are fed into future discussions about interest rates determined by the Bank of England.
“Even an increase of half a per cent in interest rates can have consequences for affordability, with a high human cost.”
The freer Shelter help-line is on 0808 800 4444 or visit their website at www. shelterscotland.org
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