An estimated two million or more households have missed a bill payment every month this year, consumer watchdog finds.
Research by Which? has found that consumer confidence in the economy has hit its lowest point since the start of the pandemic, as the cost of living crisis and price rises put households under increasing amounts of pressure.
Just 8% of consumers said they thought the UK economy would improve over the next 12 months, while nearly eight in 10 (78%) thought it would worsen – giving a net confidence of -70 compared to -47 in May.
Particularly worrying was the finding that an estimated 2.1 million households missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card or bill in the last month. This marks the sixth month this year that an estimated two million or more households have missed a payment.
The majority of consumers across all income groups said they had made an adjustment to cover essential spending in the last month.
This was most common among consumers in households surveyed with an income of up to £21,000 (64%) but more than half (57%) of consumers surveyed with a household income of over £55,000 had made at least one adjustment.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: ‘Our research shows that a relentless cost of living crisis is continuing to put huge pressure on household finances – with consumer confidence in the economy plummeting to its lowest point since the pandemic.
‘These pressures are especially apparent among the most financially vulnerable – with around two-thirds of those on incomes of £21,000 or lower saying they’ve had to make at least one financial adjustment to cover essentials in the last month.
‘The Government and businesses must ensure that targeted support reaches the ever-growing number of consumers struggling to make ends meet.’