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Cost of living crisis: Six in 10 cutting back on essentials to make ends meet

Cost of living A customer shops at a Morrisons store in Welling, south east London November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN BUSINESS FOOD)
Cost of living crisis: The most common adjustment was cutting back on essentials such as groceries, school supplies and medicines. Photo:Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

The number of people cutting back on essentials such as food or medicine or borrowing extra to make ends meet has jumped as the soaring cost of living hits home, new research shows.

Six out of ten people (59%) said they had had to make an adjustment to cover essential spending in the last month, up from one in three this time last year, according to consumer group Which?.

This includes changes such as cutting back on essentials, borrowing from family and friends, taking out loans or credit cards, dipping into savings or overdrafts or selling items.

Read more: UK pay lags inflation with record gap

The proportion of people making financial or lifestyle changes has increased from 54% in March and 35% in April 2021, as living costs surge.

Its survey of 2,000 people conducted between April 8 and 10 found early three in 10 have dipped into their savings to cover everyday costs and 7% have sold possessions.

The most common adjustment was cutting back on groceries, school supplies and medicines, with four out of ten people saying they had done this to make ends meet.

One in 10 has borrowed from friends and family and 8% have taken out a new credit card or borrowed more on an existing one.

Of those in the Which? survey on lower incomes of up to £21,000, one in nine (11%) reported missing a payment in the past month.

An estimated 2.1 million households missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card or bill payment in the last month.

Read more: UK households face £271 rise in food bills

Rent and household bills were the most common types of missed payment, with 6% of renters missing their rent payment and five per cent of all consumers saying their household had missed a bill payment.

Which? consumer rights expert Adam French said: “Our research shows how a relentless cost-of-living crisis is putting huge pressure on household finances – with six in 10 people saying they’ve had to adjust their finances to help make ends meet in the last month.”

Energy bills were the most commonly reported type of missed household bill, but as Which?’s survey was conducted shortly after the energy price cap increased, the full impact of the price hikes is yet to be seen.

The consumer group called on the government and businesses to take action in order to support those who could find themselves in a desperate situation as the cost of living crisis continues to worsen.

Watch: How to save money on a low income