1 in 11 are worried about paying the rent this month

The January blues are setting in as research finds that some 9% of people are worried about paying their rent or mortgage this month.

The research from housing charity Shelter revealed that a worrying number of people are facing the prospect of being unable to pay for housing this month, as well as some concerning habits when it comes to approaching financial difficulties.

Overall, 1 in 11 people said that they were worried that they might not be able to pay their rent or mortgage this month. Families were the worst affected; 70% of rent or mortgage payers with children were struggling or falling behind with payments, compared to 63% of the general population. Worryingly, more than 1 in 3 people expect to fall behind with their payments at some point this year.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said that a combination of high housing costs, increased cost of living and wage freezes had created a “nightmare scenario” for families, despite recent signs of economic recovery. He said:

“It's a worrying sign of the times that so many of us are starting the New Year worried about how they'll pay their rent or mortgage in 2014.

“Unless they get help, some of the families struggling now could face the very real prospect of losing their home this year.”

A major problem highlighted by the Shelter report is the “ostrich effect”, which refers to people burying their heads in the sand when it comes to financial difficulties. Eighteen percent of people surveyed said that they hadn’t opened post because they thought it was a bill, and 14% admitted to throwing post away without opening it for the same reason. The charity warned that this approach can cause problems to spiral out of control, and that those facing financial difficulties should seek help as soon as possible.

These findings highlight the need for everyone to have a greater awareness of their financial situation, especially in a climate which sees some household incomes squeezed.

Rising house prices, although welcomed by some as a sign of economic recovery, have prompted concern among groups like Shelter about the pressure on family finances - especially those who are renting.