PEOPLE burying their head in the sand over money issues could put their homes at risk, a leading homeless charity said today.

Statistics from Shelter suggest that almost one in four people in the North-East avoid opening mail they believe to be bills or payment reminders, with 19 per cent of people also admitting binning the letters without reading them.

Millions of people across the UK will begin the year worried about household bills, but avoiding facing up to financial responsibility could result in homelessness, according to the charity.

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Shelter has warned that the ‘ostrich effect’ created as a result of being overwhelmed by money worries could see people putting off, or not reading, their mortgage and rent bills – a situation that could lead to homes being put at risk.

With many people reaching crisis point without seeking financial help, Shelter is urging anyone struggling to contact them for advice.

Helpline adviser Liz Clare said: “We’re now seeing a stream of cases of families who’ve been unable to cope with mounting rent or mortgage bills and feel at breaking point.

“We all know how difficult it can be to face up to financial problems and we often hear from people who’ve been avoiding urgent post, but the reality is that not confronting it means things can spiral out of control.

“One caller to the helpline arrived home to her rented flat to find the locks had been changed. She hadn’t realised that a court hearing had even taken place because she hadn’t felt able to open her post after falling into arrears with her rent.

“We hear from people every day who are struggling, so you are not alone. Our message to anyone struggling to pay their rent or mortgage is that we’re on your side. Come to us for help early on for the best chance of keeping your home.”

The charity is urging anyone anticipating a struggle to pay their rent or mortgage in 2014 to seek help by visiting