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Average Brit just two pay cheques away from homelessness

Yahoo! Finance UK logo Yahoo! Finance UK 08/01/2020 Abigail Fenton
a man riding a skateboard down a street: The average Brit could only afford two months of rent if they lost their job. Photo: Ev/Unsplash The average Brit could only afford two months of rent if they lost their job. Photo: Ev/Unsplash

The average Brit is just two pay cheques away from homelessness at any given time, according to research.

A nationwide study of 1,500 Brits by homelessness charity Beam found the average UK adult could only pay their rent or mortgage for 2.5 months if they lost their job.

In fact, only three in 10 Brits have savings needed to pay for housing if their financial situation changed.

And over a third (35%) of Brits said it was a constant struggle to meet the basic costs of living such as housing costs, bills and transport.

The study found that 31% of British adults claim it would take just one change in their financial situation – such as a relationship breakdown, illness, or job loss – for them to lose their home or be evicted.

If the worst was to happen and they found themselves homeless, almost one in five (18%) said they would have absolutely nothing to fall back on. And while half said they could potentially rely on family to put them up, 15% said they’d be too ashamed to ask them for help.

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The study also found as many as 36% of Brits had been forced to move from their home in the past because they could not afford to continue living there.

Of those, 36% stayed with family, 21% relied on friends and 15% had to borrow money.

But a less fortunate 36% were forced to stay in emergency accommodation, a B&B or a hostel.

Housing costs (17%) and relationships breakdowns (17%) were the most common reasons for adults to lose their home, but 13% said their mental health was also a factor.

Alex Stephany, founder and CEO of Beam, said: “Whether it’s mental health related, a relationship breakdown, or losing one’s job, the sad reality is that many people become homeless for reasons outside their control.

“Often, the difference between people tipping into homelessness or not comes down to the strength of their support networks. The people we support at Beam come from a variety of backgrounds but they usually lack this ‘scaffolding’ in their lives.

The study found that 45% of Brits felt anyone could become homeless and that it just takes a run of bad luck to happen.

Nearly half (48%) of those polled know at least one person who has lost their home – with 58% having had a friend or family member stay as they had nowhere else to go. And 21% said they know of people who have lost everything, through no fault of their own.

Despite this, 27% do not feel comfortable giving money to the homeless and 18% said they do not tend to trust homeless people.

Yet more than nine in 10 adults said with the right support most homeless people could turn their life around. A generous 89% said they would donate to a homeless person to fund training for them in order for them to get a stable job.

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