Belfast Telegraph

Money worries hitting 2.4 million working households, Which? warns

More than two million working households across the UK are struggling with money worries, according to consumer group Which?

About 2.4 million households are working but their financial circumstances are poor, a report claimed.

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of working and struggling households thought their financial situation would get worse in the next year.

Common concerns included levels of household debt, fuel prices, housing costs including rent or mortgage payments, food prices and levels of household savings and investments.

Which? found one in five of those in working and struggling households had taken a loan or credit card, borrowed money from friends and family or used authorised overdrafts, as well as cutting back.

A total of 2,000 households took part in the survey. It said those who are working and struggling represent around 9% of UK households.

Two-fifths of those deemed to be working and struggling had children aged under 18.

Vickie Sheriff, Which? director of campaigns and communications, said: "It's alarming to see how millions of working households in the UK are struggling financially.

"Many are worried about paying their rent, mortgages, everyday household bills and loans.

"What's worse is that one in five of these households are relying on credit cards, overdrafts and the goodwill of their friends and family to help them get by.

"At a time when people are feeling the pinch, we are urging the Government to use its upcoming Budget to consider how it can deliver measures that will help those families that are working and struggling with money worries."

The findings were released as a separate study from insolvency trade body R3 found about a quarter (24%) of Britons say their personal or household finances are having a negative impact on their mental health.

Women were more likely to say their household finances were affecting their mental health, with 27% of women feeling this way compared with 20% of men, R3 found.

People aged 35 to 44, who are often being squeezed by family responsibilities, were also particularly likely to say their finances were affecting their mental health, with more than one in three (34%) in this age group feeling this way, according to R3's survey of more than 2,000 people.

A Treasury spokesman said: "We have taken action to help families with the cost of living by taking millions out of income tax together, freezing fuel duty for a seventh successive year and introducing the national living wage - helping those on the lowest incomes to achieve the fastest pay rise in over 20 years."

He said funding for free financial guidance was also being provided.

Here are some tips from R3 for dealing with debt worries:

:: Avoiding personal finance problems will make them worse. Ask for help. Professional advice is readily available and is often free of charge, from a debt charity, for example.

:: Prioritise the payments of your debts.

:: Set a budget. Be honest with yourself and separate your essential financial commitments from "luxuries".

:: Get in touch with your creditors at an early stage and be transparent about your financial situation.

:: Do not just keep digging deeper into debt. Turning to new loans to plug the gap in your day-to-day finances could make your situation worse in some circumstances.

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