Rising bills have meant one in four people have resorted to skipping meals, according to a survey of more than 2,000 Britons.
More than four in five are concerned about the rising cost of living in the coming months, according to the Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Sky News.
Data also show that slightly more people were concerned about the country as a whole, rather than themselves, when it comes to coping with increasing financial pressure.
The poll also suggested the pressure from rising bills is being felt most by people on lower incomes.
More than half of those earning less than £20,000 a year were “very concerned” about the cost of living over the next six months, compared with less than two in five earning £55,000 or more.
The picture is broadly similar across the country.
Lisa Burney is a mother of three from Wigan and works three jobs. She says what would have counted as disposable income is now being spent on household bills.
“If you take on extra hours when you’ve got children, then you take on extra childcare,” said Ms Burney. “It just makes the wage that you make obsolete. It doesn’t cover it, and you still get taxed on what you’re earning.”
How are people coping?
The survey suggests that three in five Britons turned off their heating to lower energy bills.
Millions of households in the UK face an unprecedented £700-a-year increase in energy bills after the price cap rose by 54% in April, with another sharp increase expected in October.
Miki Shika, a childminder and founder of a Wigan-based charity Ekhaya Empowerment, replaced her electricity with a ‘Pay as You Go’ meter.
She said: “I can’t afford the prices anymore. It’s the only way to control what I spend. Otherwise, I’ll fall into debt.
“When the meter runs out, I just light a few candles.”
Our polling shows that nearly one in five people had borrowed money to make ends meet. According to the debt charity StepChange, council tax is the most common household bill people appear to be struggling with.
Another way people are trying to cut back, according to the survey, is by driving less. More than half have already cut back on their mileage or were considering doing so.
Average petrol and diesel prices rose to an all-time high this year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
With inflation expected to rise to 10% by the end of the year, many people are changing their routines to lower bills.
Two in five people said they had already switched to a cheaper supermarket for their weekly shop as many staples such as butter and chicken have risen by a tenth over the past year.
More than one in four had also cancelled their TV and streaming subscription services, and twice as many people said they had cut back on socialising.
What’s expected in the future?
People have cut back expenses to lower bills yet they still expect a rise in the cost of living, according to the survey.
Nearly nine in ten Britons, an increase of more than 10% since earlier this year, said they expect utility bills to rise further over the next six months.
Nearly half of those surveyed are also expecting a rise in mortgage payments or rents.
Homelessness charities have warned that as inflation feeds through into the housing market, thousands of people are likely to be at risk of eviction.
Ipsos UK survey of 2,061 people aged 16-75 in Britain was carried out online between 11th and 12th May 2022. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB (aged 16-75).
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