Increasing housing costs force families to skimp on heating, warns Shelter

Housing charity Shelter has cautioned that rents and mortgages in England mean a significant number of families are having to skimp on heating and winter clothes in order to meet housing costs.

A YouGov survey of 853 parents of under-18s found that 27 per cent of respondents had cut winter spending to meet increased living costs. Ten per cent of the parents told researchers they feared they would be unable to pay rents or mortgages in January.

The charity maintains that a lack of affordable homes has left many families struggling to cope with high housing costs, while last year more than 100,000 people called its helpline for housing debt advise.

15 per cent of parents who were questioned said they had to economise on Christmas food and gifts.

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 per cent in the last year."