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'Losing job could mean losing home' - Shelter
6:00am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
SHELTER is warning that new rules being introduced in October risk leaving families in the West Midlands “living on a knife-edge” where losing their job is more likely to mean losing their home.
The charity’s new analysis reveals that some families in the West Midlands will need to find £75 or more each month as soon as they lose their jobs to have any hope of keeping up with their housing costs and identified Dudley as a hotspot of serious concern in the region, where the changes will bite hardest.
The research paints a picture of thousands of ordinary families who are already struggling to make ends meet and where further cuts to the support that protects them from becoming homeless could make it increasingly hard for many to get back on their feet.
A YouGov poll commissioned by Shelter revealed that four in 10 workers in the West Midlands say they could not pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job. The charity also found that across the country, six in 10 working families are struggling or falling behind with their rent or mortgage.
As Universal Credit is rolled out in October, the help available to renters during the first three months after they lose their job will be dramatically reduced. Meanwhile, in just over a year homeowners who lose their jobs could be made to wait for 39 weeks for help towards paying their mortgage.
The changes this autumn will mean that a family in the West Midlands paying a typical rent on an average three-bedroom home would need to find an extra £75 a month or more in 30% of local authorities in the region as soon as they became unemployed or risk getting into arrears and losing their home.
In a YouGov poll commissioned by Shelter, over two thirds of renters in the West Midlands (68%) said that having to find up to an extra £75 a month would make it impossible for them to pay their rent, while 45% of renters said that they could not afford to find any extra money at all.
The charity fears that as reductions to the support for renters begin to take effect, many more of the country’s 2.5 million families who rent their homes could be put at risk of homelessness.
A majority of 77 per cent of working adults polled across the country agreed that it would be a lot more difficult for them to find a new job if they also had to find a new home straight away.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Every day, Shelter sees people worried about what would happen to their family and their home if they fell on hard times. This research highlights the frightening reality that as support continues to be cut, losing your job is increasingly likely to mean losing your home.
“The high cost of housing, rising living costs and job insecurity are already making it incredibly tough for ordinary families to survive. Just one thing, like an illness or redundancy, can be all it takes to tip a family into a downward spiral that puts their home at risk.
“It’s important that we have a welfare system that’s fair but the Government is cutting back the safety net so much that families are no longer protected from losing their home.
“We want the Government to keep the support available to families who face losing their homes. Finding another job is hard enough but without a stable place to live it’s almost impossible to get back on your feet.”
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