Cash-strapped homeowners using credit cards to pay mortgage

Cash-strapped households across the country look set to face an ever-growing mountain of debt as millions are forced to use credit cards to pay the rent or mortgage, according to a new report.

Stressed woman with credit cards
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The study, by housing charity Shelter, found that the "daily struggle" to keep a roof over their heads has caused 2.6 million people to resort to "robbing Peter to pay Paul", taking cash from their credit card in a bid to keep up repayments.

And with tax rises and utility bills set to soar once more, the added high-interest credit card debt spells trouble.

Shelter has conducted similar research for each of the last three years - in 2008 and 2009, four per cent of households turned to the credit card for help but last year that figure rose to six per cent.

Cash withdrawals made on credit cards are notoriously expensive. Not only are users charged 2.8 per cent (or a minimum of £3) of the sum withdrawn, but interest is charged at an average rate of 25.6 per cent.

It's no surprise then that the Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that around 40,000 homeowners will face repossession this year.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, told the Daily Mail: "This is a totally unsustainable situation. It is one which we fear could see thousands more families pushed into the spiral of debt, eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness.

"Using credit cards to pay the rent or mortgage is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is the worst possible course of action."

A spokesman for financial information firm Moneyfacts, advised borrowers to look for an alternative, saying: "If you need cash, you could look at alternative forms of borrowing such as personal loans, which currently have cheaper rates than the majority of cash rates on credit cards."

What do you think? Are you worried about losing your home this year and what steps have you taken to combat debt? Leave your comments below...