Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

'One in eight' fear homelessness


Homelessness fears grow

More than one in eight people fear they could be forced out of their homes during the current economic downturn, a survey has indicated.

They fear becoming homeless by falling behind on mortgage or rent payments, homelessness charity St Mungo's found.

It also found that 93% of people using its London hostels became homeless in part due to financial pressures.

Homelessness minister Iain Wright said the government was investing "record amounts" to prevent homelessness.

The UK survey questioned 2,014 adults earlier this month.

It found that 18% feared becoming homeless and 67% said they had cut their spending over the past three months.

We need a guarantee from the government that those who are hanging on by their fingertips won't be shaken off
St Mungo's chief executive Charles Fraser

The poll found that eight out of 10 respondents felt the government should be doing more to prevent people from losing their homes.

St Mungo's chief executive Charles Fraser said: "The most vulnerable people in society will suffer the most from the financial crisis and we must provide support for those who need it."

He said the government must act urgently to avoid a "sharp increase" in people sleeping rough.

Mr Fraser added: "We need a guarantee from the government that those who are hanging on by their fingertips won't be shaken off."

'Last resort'

West-London based charity St Mungo's aims to house and support people who either have been, or are at risk of, sleeping rough.

Homelessness minister Mr Wright said the government was supporting families through the economic downturn.

"We are helping people at risk of repossession remain in their homes through our 200m mortgage rescue scheme and working with lenders to ensure repossessions are only ever a last resort," he said.

"At the same time we are investing record amounts in preventing and reducing homelessness and are looking at what more we can do to further reduce rough sleeping, which has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the last decade."

Earlier this month the Local Government Association (LGA) said at least a million more people in England and Wales could soon join waiting lists for social housing.

The LGA blamed this on the current economic downturn.

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