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Leading charity says families forced to give up food shopping to cover rent

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Families in North Staffordshire and Cheshire are facing benefit shortfalls which are affecting how they eat.

They will be forced to sacrifice a huge proportion of their grocery shopping so they can pay the rent, warns Crisis. 

The homelessness charity is calling on the Government to increase investment in housing benefit as it has published figures demonstrating the amount people would have to forego on their food shop so they can pay their rent because the current level of housing benefit does not cover the true cost of their rent.  

The data also shows there are large parts of England where the housing benefit shortfall equates to at least a quarter of the national average weekly food shop (£59) for a small family (two adults and two children). 

In East Cheshire, the average weekly rent of the cheapest third of two-bedroom properties is £136.93 compared to the average housing benefit of £130.03, leaving a shortfall of £6.90. This equates to a small family having to give up over ten percent of their grocery bill so they can cover the rent. 

Figures for North Staffordshire are similar, with the average weekly rent of the cheapest third of two-bedroom properties is £97.81 compared to the average housing benefit of £90.90, leaving a shortfall of £6.91.

Londoners are hit the hardest where even foregoing the week's entire grocery shop is still not enough to make up the difference. In outer East London, the average weekly rent for a two-bedroom property is £299.18 compared to housing benefit entitlement of £243.56, leaving a shortfall of £55.62, the equivalent of 94% of the total food bill. 

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive at Crisis, said: “A safe and stable home is fundamental to our dignity and humanity. But every day, we hear of people becoming homeless or being pushed to the brink of losing the roof over their heads because of the constant pressure of trying to cover the cost of their rent. 

"Paying the rent means families have no option but to make huge sacrifices on other basic necessities. We cannot let this continue. 

 "Housing benefit is an important tool and could be the quickest and most effective way to prevent homelessness, but due to years of cuts and freezes it simply does not cover people's rent.

"With the right policies and investment, we can end homelessness. We urge the new Government to act now and invest in housing benefit." 

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