On 17 May 2023, the FCA published selected statistics from its latest Financial Lives cost of living survey, carried out over the six months to January 2023, to give an insight into the financial situation UK adults experienced during that period. The FCA found that the number of people struggling to meet bills and credit repayments has risen by 3.1m since May 2022 and reminded borrowers that they can seek help from their lenders if they are struggling to keep up with payments.
Key statistics from the survey include:
- The number of adults who missed payments on any domestic bills or meeting any of their credit commitments in 3 or more of the previous 6 months went up by 1.4 million: from 4.2 million (8%) in May 2022 to 5.6 million (11%) in January 2023.
- The number of people who felt that making these kinds of payments was a heavy burden jumped from 7.8 million (15%) to 10.9 million (21%).
- 29% of UK adults with a mortgage and 34% of renters experienced payment increases in the 6 months to January 2023.
- Of UK adults who were insurance or protection policyholders in May 2022, 8% cancelled one or more of their policies, and 7% reduced the level of cover on one or more their policies – in the 6 months to January 2023, specifically to save money due to the rising cost of living. As some policyholders did both (cancelled and reduced cover), this means that 13% of May 2022 policyholders (or 6.2m people) cancelled and/or reduced cover.
- The toll on mental wellbeing was considerable – the FCA found that just over 1 in 2 UK adults, or 28.4 million people, were more anxious or stressed due to the rising cost of living.
- Some respondents shared positive stories of their dealings with firms that reflect the FCA’s guidance, for example that consumers should contact their credit or mortgage lender if they are struggling with payments. The FCA has published some of these positive stories to encourage consumers to seek support early, and to illustrate to firms the real-life, beneficial impact of proactive support and appropriate forbearance.
The full Financial Lives 2022 survey report is due to be published in summer 2023.