Headlines: June 21st, 2011

Research by Shelter shows a huge surge in the number of people suffering from stress and depression due to high housing costs. The research shows that 18 million people, representing 38 per cent of the population of Britain, believe housing costs cause stress and depression in their family.

The housing and homeless charity commissioned YouGov to investigate just how much rising housing costs were impacting on lives of people. The new research shows a rise of seven million people, or 15 per cent compared to the last survey in 2009, who are struggling to keep their home

Further investigation by the charity showed increasing numbers of people are feeling the strain with over 13 million people, 28 per cent, now saying they keep up with their rent or mortgage without any difficulty, a drop from 19 million people, 41 per cent in 2009. In addition 12 million people, 26 per cent, have reduced the amount they spend on food to help pay their housing costs.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It is a worrying discovery that for over 18 million people in this country high housing costs are such a strain they are suffering with stress and depression. “But this is hardly surprising when so many people face the daily choice between cutting down on essentials like food or keeping a roof over their head. The impact this stress could have on family members as well as people’s long term health is a real cause for concern, especially if this leads to a generation of people reliant on prescription drugs.”

The findings from this research are supported by a report from the NHS Prescription Services which showed prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac have risen by more than 40 per cent over the past four years because of the economic pressures people are under. Mr Robb added: “The government must recognise that investment in housing now can make savings to the NHS in the long term. As more and more people succumb to the pressures of keeping up with basic housing costs, they too could find their heath suffering, putting even more pressure on an already overstretched health service. The government promised to produce a long term strategy for housing, but we are yet to see any evidence of this.”