Press release: Britain feels the strain as almost one in three says housing costs are causing stress or depression

New research from Shelter has uncovered the emotional strain millions of families are under as they struggle to meet their housing costs.

A YouGov survey of over 4,000 British adults shows that almost one in three – equivalent to 15 million people – say housing costs are causing stress and depression in their family. One in four (12.2 million) is kept awake at night by the stress of paying their rent or mortgage.

The research shows how the struggle to pay the rent or mortgage is taking its toll on relationships, with around one in four (12.3 million) saying that housing cost worries are causing arguments with their partner and other family members.

This follows Shelter research earlier this month showing that 7.8 million rent or mortgage payers in Britain are now constantly struggling to keep up with their payments. This is an increase of 44% from the same time last year as the rising cost of living, high rents and wage freezes continue to squeeze family budgets.

Shelter is urging anyone worried about keeping up with their housing costs to seek advice at shelter.org.uk/housinghelp

Jane is a mum of two in Derbyshire. After being made redundant she has struggled to keep up with the bills and now has mortgage arrears of £3,000.

She says: “I’m really struggling. The arrears just keep mounting up and I’m now being threatened with court action. The worry of it all is keeping me awake at night, and the stress is damaging my health.  I’m on anti-depressants now just to keep myself together.”

Campbell Robb, Shelter chief executive, said: “These findings reveal the heartbreaking reality of living in fear of losing your home.

“Behind closed doors millions of families face stress, sleepless nights and strained relationships as they desperately struggle to afford their housing bills.

“Too often people think there is no way out but Shelter is here to help. Anyone having difficulty paying the rent or mortgage should get advice now. Don’t risk your home by leaving it too late.”

Catherine Johnstone, Samaritans Chief Executive said:

A decent place to live is a basic need for everyone. Worries about money and the threat of losing a home can cause stress and depression and become a real strain on relationships and families. One in six calls made to Samaritans are about financial stress, with some of these about rent or housing in particular.  Difficulties in finding a place to live or coping with poor quality accommodation are some of the many inequalities we see in society and are key issues for our callers. There’s clear evidence that people in this situation are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems and higher suicide rates.

Rent and mortgage arrears can lead to homelessness but advice from Shelter can help people stay in their homes. Visit shelter.org.uk/housinghelp #housingadvice

Notes to Editors

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was for the 2012 survey was 4060 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th November - 3rd December 2012. Total sample size for the 2011 survey was 4014 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd - 5th December 2011. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. 32% of adults in Britain (1 in 3) agreed that housing costs are causing stress or depression in their family. This is the equivalent of, 15.1 million adults.
  3. 26% of adults in Britain (1 in 4) agreed that housing cost worries cause arguments with their partner or other member of their family. This is the equivalent of 12.3 million adults.
  4. 25% of adults in Britain (1 in 4) agreed that they have been kept awake at night by the stress of paying for their housing. This is the equivalent of 12.2 million adults.
  5. 20% of those surveyed who pay rent or mortgage said they were constantly struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, equivalent to 7.8 million adults and a 44% increase since last December 2011.
  6. The estimates of numbers of people affected have been calculated by Shelter.  These estimates are based on 2010 population estimates from the Office of National Statistics which indicate that there are 47.8 million adults in Great Britain.  (use Population Estimates Analysis Tool - Mid 2010) Estimates have been rounded.
  7. Samaritans would like to remind anyone struggling to cope with pressures of life, be it about housing costs or anything else, they are there round the clock, every single day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support, by phone on 08457 90 90 90, email jo@samaritans.org or find the details of your local branch at www.samaritans.org