One in three working families in England could not afford to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job, figures from Shelter have revealed.
With little or no personal savings to fall back on, the Shelter and YouGov study found that 3 million working families have no back-up savings.
A fifth of working parents face the prospect of being immediately unable to make their next rent or mortgage payment if they lost their job and couldn’t get another one straightaway, according to the research.
The findings mirror figures from the government’s family resources survey 2014/15, which shows there are 16.5 million working age adults in the UK with no savings at all.
High housing costs remain a major area of concern for most working families, with almost half saying housing puts the biggest strain on their household budget.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These figures are a stark reminder that sky-high housing costs are leaving millions of working families stretched to breaking point, and barely scraping by from one paycheque to the next.
“Any one of us could hit a bump along life’s road, and at Shelter we speak to parents every day who, after losing their job or seeing their hours cut, are terrified of losing the roof over their children’s heads too.
“In these uncertain times, the new government has a real chance to show working families they’re on their side, by protecting and improving our welfare safety net. It’s vital that if life does takes a turn for the worse, there’s enough support available for families so that they don’t go hurtling towards homelessness.”
The charity highlighted the case of a complex needs carer called Lou who began to struggle after Lou separating from her partner: “I couldn’t afford to buy my son a proper birthday present this year. I felt awful about it but I don’t think you should hide everything from your children. You don’t want to expose them to too much, but at the same time if you simply can’t afford things you have to explain that to them.
“I’m working hard, but it still makes me feel like a failure. I recently changed jobs and hit a rough patch when I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent. An employer had given me some work and didn’t tell me that my hours wouldn’t be guaranteed, I lost a chunk of my income all of a sudden, and very nearly lost my home. It was really scary.
Shelter is the UK’s leading homelessness charity, established in 1966. It responds to over 4 million requests for help each year.