Cost of living: Almost half of adults finding it difficult to afford their bills – with numbers rising | UK News

Nearly half of UK adults are struggling to pay their energy bills, rent or pay their mortgage, new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows a growing percentage of the population struggling amid the cost of living crisis.

In September, 45% of adults paying their energy bills found it very difficult to afford – up from 40% in June.

About 30% of those paying rent or mortgage said they could hardly afford it, up from 26% in the same time frame.

This figure is higher among people with disabilities, with more than half (55%) having difficulty paying their energy bills and 36% having difficulty paying their rent (rent or mortgage). .

The ONS released an analysis of the proportion of the population affected by an increase in the cost of living and the characteristics associated with falling behind in energy, mortgage or rent payments, use of data from the Opinion and Lifestyle survey.

Overall, nine in ten (93%) of those surveyed said their cost of living has increased from a year ago.

A slightly lower percentage (73%) said it increased in the previous month.

Last week, the Financial Conduct Authority estimated 7.8 million people – or six in ten adults – in the UK hard to keep up with their bills.

Low-income and low-income renters are hardest hit

Renters have a harder time than landlords, with 39% finding it difficult to cover housing costs – compared with 23% of those with a mortgage.

Non-owners also have a harder time paying for their energy costs, with 60% having difficulty, compared with 43% of homeowners.

And those earning less also find themselves hit harder amid rising costs and rising inflation.

Around half of people with a personal income of less than £20,000 a year say they find it difficult to pay their energy bills. This rate falls as personal income increases, with around a quarter (23%) of those earning £50,000 or more reporting the same.

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Similarly, 72% of adults using a prepaid meter reported difficulty, compared with 42% of those paying through direct debit or one-time payments.

It comes as data from comparison website Uswitch shows the energy crisis is pushing more households to pay gas and electricity meters upfront.

It said about 60,000 new meters were installed in the six months to March – reversing a long-term trend in declining numbers.

Pasta, vegetable oil and tea prices rise

Separate data, also released by the ONS this morning, shows that the lowest priced supermarket items have increased by 17% in the past 12 months – up from 7% the year before.

But for some of the cheapest items, costs have increased by nearly two-thirds.

The lowest priced items that increased at the fastest rate between September 2021 and September 2022 were: vegetable oils (65%), pasta (60%) and tea (46%).

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