Almost half of UK adults are struggling to pay their energy bills, rent or mortgage payments, according to new figures.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that a growing percentage of the population is struggling with the cost of living crisis.
In September, 45% of adults who paid energy bills found it very or somewhat difficult to pay them, compared to 40% in June.
Some 30% of those paying rent or a mortgage said it was hard to afford, up from 26% over the same period.
Figures were higher among people with disabilities, with more than half (55%) having difficulty paying energy bills and 36% struggling to meet housing payments (rent or mortgage).
The ONS has published an analysis of the proportion of the population affected by the increase in its cost of living and the characteristics associated with the energy, mortgage or rental delay, based on data from the Opinions and Lifestyles survey.
Last week the Financial Conduct Authority estimated that 7.8million people – or six in ten adults – in the UK were have trouble paying their bills.
People with disabilities are twice as likely to be behind on their housing bills
About one in 15 disabled adults (7%) reported being behind on their energy bills, compared to one in 25 (4%) non-disabled people.
One in 25 (4%) adults with disabilities said they were behind on their rent or mortgage payments – this was twice as many as their non-disabled counterparts, with one in 50 (2%) behind on housing costs .
Overall, nine in ten (93%) of respondents said their cost of living had increased compared to a year ago.
A slightly lower percentage (73%) said it had increased over the past month.
Renters and the lowest incomes are the hardest hit
Renters found it harder than homeowners, with 39% struggling to pay housing costs, compared to 23% of those with mortgages.
Those who were not homeowners also had more difficulty paying energy costs, with 60% struggling compared to 43% of homeowners.
And those who earn less are also hit harder by soaring costs and rising inflation.
Around half of those with a personal income of less than £20,000 a year said they struggled to pay their energy bills. This proportion fell as personal income rose, with around a quarter (23%) of people earning £50,000 or more saying the same.
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Similarly, 72% of adults using prepaid meters said they struggled, compared to 42% of those paying through direct debt or one-time payments.
It comes as data from comparison website Uswitch said the energy crisis is pushing more households towards prepaid gas and electricity meters.
He said some 60,000 new meters had been installed in the six months to March, reversing a long-term trend of declining numbers.
Pasta, vegetable oil and tea increase in price
Separate data, also released by the ONS this morning, revealed that the cheapest supermarket items have risen by 17% in the last 12 months, compared to 7% the year before.
But for some of the cheapest items, costs have soared by nearly two-thirds.
The items with the lowest prices increasing at the fastest rate between September 2021 and September 2022 were: vegetable oil (65%), pasta (60%) and tea (46%).
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