200,000 families face losing home
Nearly 200,000 households in England have been threatened with the prospect of losing their home over the past year, equating to a city the size of Liverpool or Bristol, a charity has warned.
The 10 hotspots where families are most at risk of repossession or eviction are all London boroughs, with Barking and Dagenham named by Shelter as the area where people are most likely to face losing their home.
Barking and Dagenham has more than three times as many possession claims than the rest of the country, with one in every 37 homes there facing this threat.
The findings were taken from analysis of mortgage and landlord possession claims from the Ministry of Justice, covering October 2011 to September 2012.
These claims are the first step in a lender repossessing a home or a landlord evicting a tenant and not all of them lead to someone losing their house. The bulk of the claims came from landlords seeking to evict tenants, Shelter said.
Outside London, Wolverhampton was named as England's eviction and repossession threat hotspot, with one in 65 households facing the prospect of losing their home. Slough and Manchester followed closely behind, with one in 66 families facing this threat.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter said: "It's truly shocking how many people in this country are living with the threat of becoming homeless. In some areas, the risk of being evicted or repossessed is so high that one home in every street could be affected. This report is a stark reminder that homelessness can happen to anyone - all it takes is one event such as a redundancy or relationship break up, and whole families are at risk of losing their home.This year more than 75,000 children will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation on Christmas Day."
Labour housing spokesman Jack Dromey said: "People up and down the country who are threatened with losing their homes are paying the price for George Osborne's economic failure. The Government's failed economic policies have choked off recovery and hit already hard-pressed family budgets making it more difficult to pay the rent or keep up the mortgage. It is an absolute tragedy that as Christmas approaches so many people are in fear of losing their home."
Housing minister Mark Prisk said: "Repossessions are at their lowest level since 2007. This Government's ongoing efforts to tackle the deficit inherited from the last administration are helping to avoid the rapid increases in interest rates which would put pressure on already stretched family budgets.
"But we are not complacent, and help is available to anyone facing the prospect of repossession. We've provided £19 million to councils to give short-term loans to struggling households, and extended the £221 million last resort Mortgage Rescue Scheme for homeowners at risk of repossession. On top of this, we've invested £470 million over four years to tackle homelessness, and provided £3 million to the National Homelessness Advice Service to ensure help is on hand for families when they need it most. We would urge anyone struggling with their mortgage to seek early help, so that repossession is always the last resort."