Cost of living: Millions of people already behind with their household bills, new research suggests

·2-min read

Nearly 11 million people, one in five adults across the UK, have fallen behind with at least one household bill payment, according to a new report.

A survey for The debt charity, Money Advice Trust, detailed the extent to which rising prices are already impacting households, with women; those from ethnically diverse communities and those relying on benefits being worst affected.

It estimates that 10.9 million people, or 20% of UK adults, were behind in their bills, and suggests 40% have cut down on all essential spending and stopped or reduced car use, one in nine had gone without food and 7.7 million people had sold items to help cover bills.

The research was based on a survey of 2,000 adults, carried out by market research company Opinium.

One of the main drivers of the cost of living crisis, energy bills, have been capped at £2,500 a year on average but the research showed energy prices are already unaffordable for millions or forcing them to limit spending in other areas. One in nine reported already being in energy arrears and that their energy supplier had already increased monthly payments to a level they could not afford.

There is now pressure on the government, ahead of its mini budget on Friday, to do more to support people in arrears and help those on lower incomes.

Those receiving benefits are shown to be worse hit than the rest of the population, with the percentage of those in arrears in this group more than doubling to 45%.

Women and people from an ethnic minority background were also more likely to be hit by inflationary pressures.

People from ethnically diverse communities were more likely to be behind in their bills than white people: 39% were behind in bills, compared to 18% of white people.

While 23% of men said they worried about money every day, more women (34%) said they worried daily.

Debt is growing as costs rise, the report also highlighted. Credit cards are being used to pay for essentials by 15.3 million people, an increase of 2.1 million people since March 2022 and 5.6 million have had to borrow money from family or friends.

The number of those struggling with mortgage repayments also rose to 5% of UK adults.