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Churches failing people with money worries, says Christian charity

A Christian homeless charity is criticising some churches for not doing enough to help people with money worries.

Housing Justice says some congregations across the nation are being neglected because churches are too inward looking. It comes as a new report reveals that one in 11 people in Britain fear they won't be able to afford to pay the rent or mortgage at the end of this month, according to research from charity Shelter. It says families are worst affected, with over two thirds of rent or mortgage payers with children currently struggling or falling behind with their payments, compared to 63% of the general population of rent or mortgage payers.

Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice, told Premier's Des Busteed during the News Hour that churches need to start prioritising the community over internal issues within their dioceses:

Shelter is also warning that the 'ostrich effect' created as a result of feeling overwhelmed by money worries could put many homes at risk this year if overdue rent or mortgage bills are put off until it's too late.

The charity claims its findings reveal a 'worrying' trend of people unable to face up to their financial difficulties, with nearly one in five saying they've not opened post if they thought it was a bill or late payment reminder.

The charity said one in eight even admitted to putting it in the bin without opening it.  With over one in three expecting to struggle or fall behind with their rent or mortgage in 2014, the charity is urging anyone worried about their housing costs to get help this month by visiting shelter.org.uk/advice.

Shelter also claims its advisers regularly see cases of people putting off asking for help until they reach crisis point. As it gets tougher to pay all the bills, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn.

The criticism from Housing Justice comes only days after the Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to adopt a New Year's resolution of tackling poverty in their own neighbourhoods.

Most Revd Justin Welby said in his first New Year's message as head of the Church of England that many people were struggling in spite of many signs of hope. He recommended taking up a pledge this year to try to "change the world a bit where we are". Archbishop Welby also defended the CofE's right to speak out on political issues, saying it was his Christian faith that had led him to make public interventions in areas such as energy bills. He said one of the "greatest excitements" of his job as head of the Church of England was being part of an organisation that is the "glue that's holding the whole of society together" in many places.

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