7.4 million adults struggled to pay bills, credit repayments

Energy bills

The most commonly missed payments during the six months were utility bills, followed by credit card bills and council tax

Nearly one in seven, or 7.4 million, UK adults struggled to pay their bills and credit repayments in January, as per a survey by the City regulator, as the cost of living crisis continued to bite.

While the figure was up from 10.9 million people in January 2023, it is still above the 5.8 million logged in February 2020, immediately before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the cost of living squeeze began.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) surveyed 3,450 UK adults who had earlier completed its main Financial Lives survey in May 2022.

The equivalent of around 5.5 million Britons said they had fallen behind or missed paying one or more domestic bills or credit commitments in the six months to January, down from 6.6 million people a year before.

The most commonly missed payments during the six months were utility bills, followed by credit card bills and council tax.

The Financial Conduct Authority said 62% of renters had seen rent hikes in the past 12 months, with half reporting they were not coping financially or finding it difficult to cope.

Single adults with children, adults from a minority ethnic background and people living in the north east of England were also found to be more likely to experience financial difficulty.

In the 12 months to January, the equivalent of 2.7 million people in financial difficulty sought help from a lender, a debt adviser or other financial support charity, with nearly half (47%) of these people saying they were in a better position as a result.

Nevertheless, two in five adults who had fallen behind on their bills said they had avoided talking to their lender about their finances.

The Financial Conduct Authority noted that it was making permanent the expectations on lenders to support borrowers in difficulty, which were introduced during the pandemic.

It introduced a new Consumer Duty last year, which has piled more pressure on firms to deliver “good outcomes” for customers.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority, said: Our research shows many people are still struggling with their bills, though it is encouraging to see some benefitting from the help that’s available.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by our writers are their own and do not represent the views of Getting Money Wise. The information provided on Getting Money Wise is intended for informational purposes only. Getting Money Wise is not liable for any financial losses incurred. Conduct your own research by contacting financial experts before making any investment decisions.

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