UK households forced to switch ‘to cover soaring costs of essentials’

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Households across the UK have had to tighten their belts as the cost of living crisis eats into family budgets. Some six in 10 people have already made lifestyle or financial changes to cover the cost of essentials in the past month, according to Which?

Changes included cutting back on essentials, borrowing from family and friends, taking out loans or credit cards, dipping into savings or overdrafts, or selling items. The proportion of people making financial or lifestyle changes has risen from 54% in March to 35% in April 2021, as the cost of living rises.

Who? Adam French, consumer rights expert, said: “Our research shows how a relentless cost of living crisis is putting enormous pressure on household finances – with six in 10 people saying they have had to adjust their finances to make ends meet over the past few months.”

Who? said the pressures on household finances continued to worsen as millions of people faced major price hikes on their bills for energy, broadband, mobile phones, water and municipal taxes in April.

The most common adjustment people have made recently is to cut back on essentials such as groceries, school supplies, and medications.

Nearly three in ten said they had to dip into their savings to cover living expenses and 7% sold goods. One in 10 borrowed from friends and family and 8% took out a new credit card or borrowed more on an existing card.

Among those in the Which section? survey on incomes below £21,000, one in nine said they had missed a payment in the last month.

Energy bills were the type of household bill missed most often. More than half of those who said they had missed one bill payment said they had missed more than one.

Meanwhile, the cost of buying or replacing everyday household goods is skyrocketing as energy and shopping bills rise, analysis shows.

A washing machine is generally £161 more than it was two years ago, while a cooker will cost someone £334 more on average, according to a website.

Those in need of a new TV, meanwhile, can expect to pay £49 more than two years ago, while a tablet now costs £74 more on average.

Price comparison website PriceRunner performed the analysis using its own data, as well as commissioning a survey to find out which daily prices people noticed rising.

Average price increase between April 2020 and April 2022

  • Digital cameras, 60% or £268
  • Washing machines, 49% or £161
  • Monitors: 39% or £96
  • Cookers, 27% or £334
  • Tablets, 22% or £74
  • Tumble dryer, 19% or £72
  • Toys, 18% or £3
  • Vacuum cleaners, 11% or £18
  • Coffee pots, 10% or £7
  • Speakers, 9% or £15
  • TVs, 8% or £49
  • Headphones and gaming headsets, 8% or £3

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