More than 2-million people in the United Kingdom have used their credit cards to pay their mortgage or rent in the last twelve months, a 50 percent increase from the prior year, according to Shelter, the British housing and homelessness charity.

“Many of these people could be starting the New Year facing the risk of homelessness,” Shelter stated.

“Not only can defaulting on credit card payments lead to repossession in very severe cases, but just one single thing - like a bout of illness, a rent increase or drop in income - is all that’s needed to push people into a spiral of debt and arrears that can lead to the loss of their home.”

The problem highlights the specter of rising unemployment in Britain (driven primarily by the coalition government’s drastic public spending cuts) as well as of interest rates eventually climbing. More importantly, it underscores the undisciplined use of easily-obtained credit by Britons – a phenomenon quite familiar to much of the industrialized world.

“Our research brings into sharp focus the daily struggle faced by millions of people across the country to keep a roof over their head,” said Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb.

“This is a totally unsustainable situation and one which we fear could see thousands more families pushed into the spiral of debt, eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness.”

In mid-December, the number of unemployed in Britain climbed to 2.5-million, while the jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent. Unemployment among youth is at record levels.

Further job reductions are feared for next year as the government’s austerity program takes a bigger bite.

Robb told the Guardian that using credit cards to pay the rent or mortgage is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. With the average credit card interest rate now standing at over 16 percent it is the worst possible course of action. Already someone faces the nightmare of losing their home every two minutes, and we would urge every single one of these people now relying on credit to keep their home to seek advice urgently.