Cost of living crisis: 7 in 10 UK adults concerned about rising bills

More than four in 10 people are buying less food amid the cost of living crisis. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty
More than four in 10 people are buying less food amid the cost of living crisis. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty

The majority of adults in the UK are concerned about the cost of living crisis as inflation hits household budgets amid rising food, energy and fuel bills.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published on Friday, show women, disabled people, poorer households, and those with young children are most anxious about surging prices.

According to the ONS, 77% of adults are either very or somewhat worried about the rising costs of living, rising to 90% for those with children, 81% for woman versus 73% of men, and to 82% for disabled people.

The numbers, which reflect the month to 22 May, suggest most people have reduced spending to cope with soaring costs.

Nearly two in three people reported cutting back on non-essentials and 46% said they spent less on food, while 40% reduced spending on non-essential journeys and the majority of respondents said they were using less gas and electricity at home.

Poorer households were the most likely to feel very worried about the cost of living as rising food and energy prices hit household incomes.

"Those with a gross personal income of less than £10,000 per year had the highest percentage feeling very worried (31%), whereas those with a gross personal income of £50,000 or more had the lowest percentage feeling very worried (12%)," the ONS said.

Analysts have warned that "while its sensible for every household to adopt a more cautious approach towards spending" in this high inflation era, the stress of balancing the books could be "very debilitating" for some.

"If people are forced to turn to debt such as credit cards, loans and overdrafts to manage the mounting costs, it leaves them vulnerable to financial stress if unexpected bills come in and they don’t have the funds to pay them," said Alice Haine, Personal Finance Analyst at Bestinvest.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "We’re plagued by anxiety over the cost of living. Women, the squeezed middle, those on lower incomes and people with disabilities are particularly concerned about how they’re going to pay the bills.

"It’s taking a toll on every aspect of our lives, and significant numbers of people are having to take drastic steps to cope. What’s more, we know things are going to get tougher."

Read more: Rishi Sunak unveils £15bn aid to help UK households struggling with rising energy bills

Separate figures published by the Bank of England on Friday showed 70% of respondents expected interest rates to rise in the coming year, up sharply from February.

The latest data come ahead of Threadneedle Street's interest rates decision next week, as analysts expect the central bank to hike rates from a 13-year high of 1% to 1.25%.

UK inflation is currently running at five times the BoE's 2% target after CPI hit a 40-year high of 9% in April.

Meanwhile, the price of filling a tank of petrol has hit £100 for the first time on Thursday as the cost of living crisis affecting UK households continues to bite.

Read more: Sunak warned another support package will be needed before winter

It comes as chancellor Rishi Sunak last month announced a windfall tax on energy giants to help fund a package to alleviate the strain on household energy bills.

The finance minister said that more than 8 million households on the lowest income will get £650 to help them with rising energy bills. This support will be worth £5bn.

He said the current cost of living situation was "simply unacceptable" and that the government would never allow people to be left destitute.

In addition to this, he revealed that 8 million pensioner households will get a one-off payment of £300, as well as a one-off £150 payment for people receiving disability benefits.

People in this group will also get the £650 for those in lowest income.

Watch: Why are gas prices rising?