Millions of parents 'cut back on heating to pay mortgage'
More than one in four parents across England are cutting back on their winter heating or clothing to meet the cost of their rent or mortgage, according to Shelter.
The housing charity found that 27% of parents have cut back on either using energy to heat their home or buying winter clothing to help meet the cost of keeping a roof over their head this winter.
From its findings, Shelter estimated that 2.7 million parents across England are cutting back on heating or clothes shopping to meet their housing costs.
One in 10 (10%) of parents surveyed said they were worried about being able to afford to pay their rent or mortgage in 2016 and 15% said they had already cut back on Christmas food shopping or dipped into savings meant for Christmas gifts in order to help pay for their housing costs this winter.
The research was based on a survey of more than 800 parents with children aged up to 18 years old across England.
Shelter said that more than 100,000 people have sought advice on housing debt from the charity's helpline, online or face-to-face services in the last year.
The charity is urging anyone starting to have difficulties paying their rent or mortgage to get help as early as possible to avoid losing their home.
Here are some tips from Shelter helpline adviser Danielle Goodwin on dealing with rent and mortgage debt:
:: Ask for help early.
:: Focus on housing costs first. Make sure paying your mortgage or rent is the priority. The priority is for you to keep your home, even if you are getting demands from credit card and payday loan companies.
:: Contact your lender as soon as possible if you are behind on the mortgage.
:: If you are struggling with rent arrears, see if you can claim housing benefit to help pay the rent.
:: Respond to letters and phone calls. Read everything your mortgage lender, landlord or letting agent sends to you. Keep records of every letter and phone call.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: " The reality is mortgage repossession claims continue to fall and are their lowest since 1987.
"This is thanks to our work to tackle the deficit and keep interest rates low, helping more families to stay in their hard earned homes.
"We've introduced measures to ensure tenants get a fair deal and are aware of their rights. We've also doubled the housing budget to deliver over 400,000 affordable homes and the number of new homes is up 25% in the last year."