Shelter helpline stretched to limits

Posted: 23rd Jul 2014

Benefit cuts and rising pressures on household budgets have driven a surge in the number of people on the brink of homelessness, according to the charity Shelter, which warns it can no longer keep up with demand for its helpline.

The longest squeeze on incomes for decades has meant more people are struggling to stay on top of their housing costs, Shelter says. The number of callers to its helpline battling rent arrears has more than doubled since 2011 with a sharp rise in people calling in about mortgage arrears.

The total number of calls has risen by 20% over that period. Shelter says almost a third of calls go unanswered and has launched an appeal for funds to help it provide advice to people “living on a financial knife-edge”. It warns that with many household budgets so tight, “a job loss or serious illness can be all it takes to tip someone into a spiral that ends in homelessness”.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Every 11 minutes, a family in Britain loses their home. With more and more people having to stretch their finances to breaking point in a bid to makes ends meet, it’s not hard to see why.

“But as more people come to us desperate for support, sadly our helpline is also being stretched to its limits.”

Shelter says its team of advisers heard from more than 124,000 people in need of support last year. But nearly 54,000 calls went unanswered.


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