ONE in four Scots fears they may not be able to meet their rent or mortgage payments at some point this year, according to Shelter Scotland.
Separate research for the housing and homelessness charity found that, across the UK, almost six in ten (59 per cent) rent or mortgage payers are already struggling to keep up with housing costs.
More than a quarter (26 per cent) of the 4,150 British adults surveyed in November said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if struggling with housing payments.
The separate survey of 1,038 adults carried out in Scotland in December found that one in four people responsible for paying rent or mortgage was worried they may not be able to do so at some time this year.
Shelter said it 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.
It said that 26 per cent of the people in its survey said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if struggling with housing payments.
Some 59 per cent of the more than 2,300 rent or mortgage payers surveyed in November said they were already struggling to keep up with their housing costs.
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The charity urged people to ask for help and advice before things spiral out of control.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Every day 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. We understand it is all too easy to bury your head in the sand hoping the problem will go away. But if you’re in this situation, it’s so important to remember you’re not alone and that help is at hand.
“Advice from Shelter Scotland is only a click or a phone call away – so get advice early to prevent things from spiralling out of control.”
Nadeem Khan, a helpline adviser for Shelter, said: “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.”
Shelter highlighted the case of a mother-of-two named Katharine from Yorkshire who works unpredictable hours and fears she will not be able to meet her rent payments each month.
Katharine said: “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 after 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 Scotland added that, over the festive period, it helped hundreds of families and individuals struggling to meet their housing costs and who were at risk of losing their homes.
It said that as well as seeking help, those who are struggling should always aim to make their mortgage or rent payments their “number one priority” and they should take action to deal with any other debts such as credit cards and phone bills separately.
The charity said it is also important to read all correspondence from the mortgage lender, landlord or letting agent and keep records of every letter and phone call involving them.
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