Almost six in ten adults in the UK struggle to keep up with their bills, according to new research from the city’s regulator.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) estimated that 7.8 million people were struggling to keep up with their bills – an increase of around 2.5 million people since 2020 – when around 5.3 million people were struggling.
In total, an estimated 31.9 million people, or 60% of UK adults, found it a ‘heavy burden’ or ‘somewhat of a burden’ to keep up with bills – an increase of around six million people since 2020.
One in four adults in the UK have said they were in financial difficulty or could be in difficulty if they suffered a financial shock.
About 4.2 million people have missed bills or loan payments in the six months before the survey took place.
The findings are part of the FCA’s Financial Lives survey, with the latest research being carried out among 19,000 people between February and June 2022. The full results will be published in early 2023.
Adults living in the most deprived areas of the UK were almost seven times more likely to be in financial difficulty than those living in the least deprived areas, the FCA said.
The research also found that 27% of blacks said they found it a heavy burden to keep up with bills – nearly double the rate of the general population, which stood at 15%.
Around 12% of people in the North East and 10% in the North West of England were found to be in financial difficulty, compared to 6% in the South East and South West.
Sheldon Mills, chief executive of consumer and competition at the FCA, said: “Our research shows that people up and down the country are struggling to keep up with their bills.
“If you’re facing financial difficulties, you don’t have to fight alone. There is free debt advice and we’ve told businesses they need to work with their customers to resolve any payment problems.”
Food prices rose 14.5% from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase since 1980, while housing and utility costs rose 20.2%.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the consumer price index inflation reached 10.1% in Septembercompared to 9.9% in August as the economy reeled from the chaos caused by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.