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Our latest findings on the rising cost of living

An updated snapshot of the challenges facing households on the cost of living

Through our National Debtline and Business Debtline services, we see the sharp end of the current challenges facing households on income, costs and bills. However, the impact of rising inflation, energy costs and out-of-pace incomes are far-reaching.

Our latest briefing, based on a poll of more than 2,000 adults, shines a spotlight on the continued financial challenges UK households are facing and the difficulties that lie ahead for many more as the cost of living continues to rise.

Full briefing

Key findings

  • An estimated 5.5 million people (1 in 10 UK adults) were behind on their energy bills in April – an increase of 2.1 million compared to March 2022.
  • A fifth (21 percent) of people in receipt of means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, had gone without food in the last three months.
  • An estimated 3.2 million people have received demands from their energy supplier for repayments of arrears that they cannot afford.
  • An estimated 2.2 million people on low incomes have had money deducted from their benefits to repay debts – and more than one in four (27 percent) said they have fallen behind on other bills as a direct result.

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Our recommendations

To support the recovery of the hardest hit households, action is needed to introduce:

  • A dedicated government ‘Help To Repay’ scheme for energy arrears, to provide repayment matching and the option to write off energy debts for people dealing with unaffordable arrears.
  • Urgent reform of government debt collection practices to ensure safe routes out of debt, with affordable and fair repayment options available to all.
  • An Essentials Guarantee to link the rate of Universal Credit to the cost of essential goods including food and energy costs.

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Impossible choices: An updated snapshot of the challenges facing households on the cost of living (September 2022)

Our Impossible Choices briefing, published in September 2022, provided an updated analysis on the impact of the cost of living and recommendations for support to help households most acutely affected.

Full briefing

Collision course: A snapshot of the challenges facing households on the cost of living (March 2022)

In March we published our first briefing, based on a poll of 2,000 adults, into the impact of the rising cost of living on households in the UK.

Full briefing

Latest research and reports

The Money Advice Trust is committed to a programme of research which enhances understanding of the debt and credit environment and practically improves money advice. Find all of our latest research and reports here.

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