A FAMILY have begged for help after botched sewer works brought a rat infestation to their home.

Stephen and Michelle Ainscough thought their lives could get no worse when their home in Stourton Street, Rishton, began to crumble in April after United Utilities started work to fix a flooding problem.

But now, after four months of living with the problems of subsidence - bending floors, cracking walls and sticking doors - rats have moved in.

Youth worker Michelle, 40, said: "It's horrific. We have been living on our nerves for months now and don't feel we are getting the help we need. Every time we come home there is a new crack in the wall but now things are even worse.

"I came downstairs one night and a rat was scurrying round the kitchen. I don't know if they are running all over the house. We are scared to eat anything and we have to wipe everything down all the time. I have been to the doctor for anti-depressants."

Mrs Ainscough said family life with children Sam, 15, and Lewis, five, has been devastated.

She said: "At the end of April we all moved out to my mum's for a few days while she was away. Balfour Beatty, the sub-contractor, offered to put us up in a hotel but that's no good for my children. They need their home.

"We moved back in and the contractors keep telling us the house is safe, but it doesn't feel like it. The house is coming down around us and cracks are appearing in our neighbour's house now. The works were so dangerous workmen refused to stay on site a while ago.

"We spent £10,000 on the house last year but it won't be worth anything soon. We've been told that it might not be worthwhile fixing our home. If that happens we will want the full market value for it."

A Balfour Beatty spokesman said: "We are aware of the sensitivity of the situation and apologise for the inconvenience that has been caused.

"We have carried out a number of site visits and are working closely with both Mr and Mrs Ainscough and our insurance company to find a solution that suits all parties as soon as possible."