Posted: Fri 29th Sep 2023

One in seven households with children missed an essential payment in a single month, Which? finds

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 29th, 2023

One in seven households with children missed an essential payment in a month as many may have struggled to cover back to school costs, new research from Which? has found.

Which?’s latest Consumer Insight Tracker found one in seven (15%) families surveyed missed an essential payment – such as a housing, bill, loan or credit card payment – in the month to 8th September. This comes at a time when parents may have struggled to foot the bill for uniforms, stationery and other school essentials.

This compares to just five per cent of those with no children.

Overall, 8.2 per cent of all UK households – an estimated 2.3 million – missed a housing, bill, loan or credit card payment. This is in line with the high missed payment rates of the last few months.

Families were also much more likely than other groups to report making at least one adjustment – such as cutting back on essentials, dipping into savings, selling possessions or borrowing – to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the last month.

A staggering 7 in 10 (68%) households with children surveyed reported at least one adjustment in the month to September 8th. This is significantly higher than the half (46%) of households without children.

Overall, an estimated 15.1 million UK households made at least one adjustment to cover essential spending. This is the lowest level seen in the last 18 months but is still significantly higher than the number of households making adjustments in 2020 and 2021 – before the full impact of the cost of living crisis hit household finances.

These figures suggest that while some households might be seeing improvements to their household financial situation, many remain at serious risk of financial hardship. This is especially true for households with children, who may have struggled to cover the additional cost of back to school supplies.

With winter fast approaching, pressures on household finances are only likely to increase. At such a difficult financial time, businesses must do everything in their power to ease pressures on household budgets. Which? is calling on essential businesses – energy firms, broadband providers and supermarkets – to do more to help their customers and ensure they are providing value for money.

For example, supermarkets need to make budget range items widely available – particularly in convenience stores – energy firms need to ensure their customer service departments are fully staffed and able to support any customers who are struggling to make ends meet and telecoms firms need to properly advertise their social tariffs to eligible customers.

If people are missing or struggling to afford essential payments – such as energy, credit card or mortgage payments – then they should speak to their provider immediately for help.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

“It’s really worrying that one in seven households with children missed a housing, bill, loan or credit card payment in a single month.

“With winter and higher heating bills fast approaching, these pressures on household finances are only set to increase. We’d encourage anyone who’s struggling to seek free debt advice and reach out to their bill provider for help.

“As so many people face financial hardship, Which? is calling on businesses in essential sectors – like food, energy and telecoms – to do more to help their customers make ends meet during this crisis.”

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