UK

Payday loans funding rent and mortgages, Shelter says

  • 15 January 2014
  • From the section UK
Rooftops of houses in south London
Shelter is urging people struggling with housing costs to seek help

Hundreds of thousands of people across Britain have taken out a payday loan to meet their housing costs, research for the charity Shelter suggests.

Of the 3,675 renters and mortgage payers surveyed, 2% had taken out the high-interest short-term loans in the year to November.

Overall, 19% had borrowed money - other than the mortgage itself - including by using credit cards.

Shelter and payday loan firms urged people to seek help for money problems.

The loans are designed for short-term borrowing but high fees for people who default on their payments can raise the cost of borrowing even further and the industry is currently the subject of a Competition Commission probe.

Other ways people said they covered their housing expenses were by borrowing from friends or family members, through unauthorised overdrafts, or by taking out another type of loan.

YouGov conducted the survey for Shelter and spoke to 4,085 adults overall, with about a quarter of the respondents saying they would be too ashamed to ask for help if they were struggling with housing costs.

Two-fifths of those surveyed also said they would not admit their problems to family or friends.

Shelter said it dealt with just under 9,000 calls to its helpline from people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage last year, up a third on the previous year.

'Frighteningly real prospect'

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Sky-high housing costs, stagnating wages and the high cost of living have taken their toll.

"The economy as a whole might be on the up, but losing our home could now be a frighteningly real prospect for any one of us.

"We're now hearing from record numbers of families up and down the country who are desperately struggling to keep the roof over their heads. But the truth is, we're more worried about the people we don't see.

"Our message today is don't keep your worries to yourself."

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Consumer Finance Association, which represents major short-term lenders, said: "While it is of some comfort that the figures haven't increased since last year, there are still too many people using short-term loans to manage larger debt problems.

"We advise anyone who is regularly struggling to pay their rent or mortgage not to try and borrow their way out of trouble. Responsible lenders will help you with a debt repayment plan."

Housing minister Kris Hopkins disputed the figures but said he also urged people with money worries to get early help and advice.

He added: "The economy is improving and rents are falling in real terms. Repossessions and evictions have been kept down by the government's long-term economic plan, so landlord possession orders remain lower than under the previous administration.

"Moreover, we have provided £470m of central government funding to ensure we continue to have a strong safety net against homelessness."

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