By Georgie Keate
The UK property market is so dysfunctional, it forces one in six families to spend over 40% of their income on rent or mortgages, research reveals.
Britain is now the third worst off when it comes to housing costs, only just above Greece and Denmark, according to an EU report.
"Even countries with famously troubled economies such as Spain, Italy and Portugal fared better - in Portugal only 4.2% of people are spending over 40% of their income on housing, four times less than the in UK," the report found.
This is in contrast with our nearest neighbour France, where only 5.2% are overburdened by their rents and mortgages.
The report arrives amid the government's pledge to stick to their housing benefit cap which prevents families from receiving over £26,000 to help towards their rents.
Many have calculated that this will lead to a 'social cleansing' of the UK's wealthier area as tenants are forced out of their homes and into cheaper areas.
The report criticises a succession of UK governments for failing to invest in affordable housing and allowing years of easy access mortgages, causing a chronic lack of supply and rocketing house prices.
"With so many families spending huge amounts of their income on their rent or mortgage, people will be making daily trade-offs between food bills, filling the car tank with petrol, and paying their housing costs," argued Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.
“And this is not set to get better any time soon. The future facing our children and our children’s children is only set to get worse."
Shelter have demanded the government treat the housing problem with the same gravity as health and education.