We all know that times are tough. For many people in the UK, belts have been tightened, luxuries like going out and going on holiday have been curtailed and fun purchases knocked on the head.
But it’s shocking to realise that 6% of UK adults – that’s three million people – have to use credit in order to buy basics, including food and utilities.
NEW RESEARCH SHOWS SHOCKING FIGURES
Research from debt management company Debt Advisory Centre, who provided this article, has thrown up some figures that show just how much these tough economic times are affecting ordinary people.
While 3 million adults had to use credit to buy food this July, a further 8% of people between 25 and 44 were forced to borrow money to pay their water, gas and electricity bills.
In other words, millions of people in the UK cannot afford the basic necessities of life without going into debt.
AGE AND AREA MATTER
One in five 18-24 year-olds have been forced to borrow money to buy food.
A large number of people in the East Midlands (10%), London (8%), and Northern Ireland had also borrowed to pay their utility bills.
In general, it seems younger people are borrowing to buy food more often, including those in the 18-24 age group and 10% of those in the 25-34 age group, showing just how widespread this problem is.
COSTS CONTINUE TO SOAR
These figures were taken from information gathered during July 2013 and, with winter now upon us, it’s likely we’ll see more people needing to borrow to keep warm, dry and fed.
Most people borrow money from time to time but if you find that you are routinely buying on credit towards the end of the month, or are repeatedly struggling to pay for utilities, it’s a good idea to get some help and advice before the winter properly kicks in.
Revamping your finances and budget can be a first step to getting a clearer picture of your finances and keeping out of debt where possible.
Debt Advisory Centre’s Ian Williams said: “The fact that so many people are having to borrow to meet their utility bills during the summer – when heating bills are usually lower – could signal real trouble approaching this winter. Most of us need to borrow a little money from time to time, but borrowing to pay for essentials such as food and utilities could be a sign that you are struggling financially.”
STEPS TO TAKE
Firstly, if you’re struggling, contact your utility providers and explain your predicament. You may be able to work out a different payment plan. Communicating with service providers and being honest about your situation can help more than you might expect, and can also help you feel more in control of your finances, all year round.
If you’re struggling with multiple debts, you should speak to a specialist such as Debt Advisory Centre – and find out what they suggest.