Missed bill payments back to winter levels

Missed bill payments back to winter levels

2 Aug    Finance News, News

The number of people missing payments on essential household bills like energy, phone and water is as high as it was over the winter, according to consumer group Which?.

Household budgets have been under strain for more than a year.

Even though prices rises have eased slightly, around 2.4 million households missed at least one bill payment in the month to mid-July, Which? estimates.

Which? said 770,000 failed to make mortgage or rent payments.

One in twenty renters and one in thirty mortgage holders defaulted on a payment, it estimated.

January is usually when the highest number of households miss a payment, after paying for seasonal festivities. Last winter the steep rise in energy prices added extra pressure.

But the long squeeze on household budgets is taking its toll on people’s ability to make ends meet now, said Which?.

Its consumer insight tracker, a monthly online poll of around 2,000 respondents, suggests that 8.6% of households missed at least one bill payment in July. In January it was 8.2%.

The figure for missed bill payments had fallen back slightly in May and June, but rose again in July.

Around 1.5 million missed payments on household bills such as energy, water, phone or council tax. Nearly two thirds of that group missed more than one payment.

Others failed to make credit card or loan repayments.

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which? said the “human cost” of the cost-of-living crisis was continuing to rise.

“With interest rates predicted to rise again, these pressures on household finances are only set to increase,” he said.

“We’d encourage anyone who’s struggling to seek free debt advice and reach out to their bill provider for help”.

Which? also called on businesses providing essential services like energy, food and telecoms to do more to support customers.

Less than a fifth of people asked said they thought their household financial situation would get better over the next 12 months, while four in 10 (37%) said they thought it would get worse.

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