A survey from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that almost 11 million adults have struggled to meet bills and credit repayments since May 2022, a rise of 3.1m from 7.8 million this time last year. Additionally, the number of adults that have missed loan and bill payments in at least 3 of the previous 6 months has also increased to 5.6 million, compared to 4.2 million in the previous period.
As a result, the FCA has reminded companies of their responsibility to help those unable to afford repayments and to improve support for customers in financial difficulty.
Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA said: 'Our research highlights the real impact the rising cost of living is having on people’s ability to keep up with their bills, although we are pleased to see that people have been accessing help and advice.
'If you’re concerned about your finances, you do not need to worry alone. We've told lenders that they should provide support tailored to your needs. And, if you find yourself in debt or want to know more about how to manage your finances, free expert advice is available.
'We will continue to act quickly to make sure financial firms help their customers who are facing financial difficulty or are worried they might be soon.'
What to do if you're struggling to pay your bills
If you find that you are struggling to afford any of your monthly repayments, you should contact your provider to notify them of your situation. In most instances, the company will be able to provide support or an affordable repayment plan in order to help you get back on your feet. If there are certain areas of your finances you are struggling with, we share the steps you can take below. However, additional information, help and details of the support available can also be found in our complete Cost of Living guide.
What to do if you're struggling to repay debt
If you are feeling overwhelmed with outstanding credit payments, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. There are a number of websites and charities with trained advisors to help people in debt, and they can also point you in the direction of schemes such as Breathing Space that can help to reduce the pressure of repaying debt. We have more details on how to get debt help in our article 'Where to get free debt advice'.
For more information and tips on how to save money on your debt repayments read our article, 'How to save money on credit card and loan payments'.
What to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills
If you're struggling to pay your energy bills you should contact your energy supplier for help. Notifying them of your problem means that they can help to set up a debt repayment plan and point you in the direction of any grants and schemes that you may be eligible for.
Another way to help lessen the burden of energy bill costs is to try and reduce your energy consumption. We share some tips in our article, 'How to save money on your energy bills'.
What to do if you're struggling to repay your mortgage
If you find that your mortgage is becoming difficult to afford, you should speak to your mortgage provider immediately. A lot of providers are set up to help those who are struggling financially and often have a number of teams on hand to help. Our article, 'How to save money on your mortgage' also provides a number of ways to cut back on the cost of one of the most expensive bills.
Where to get free debt advice
If you are experiencing financial difficulty it is imperative that you seek help as soon as possible. There are a number of websites that are able to offer free debt help and advice in the event that you are struggling with your finances. Below we list some of the key places where you can seek free debt advice. You can also read our article 'The impact of debt on your mental health and how to get help'.
Charities and websites that offer free help and advice include: