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1 in 4 using savings to buy food

One in four people have had to use their savings to buy food and daily essentials, while one in five have gone into debt to do so, a new report revealed.

The report, by consumer group Which?, found one in three people are struggling to get by - 36% admit to finding things difficult, compared to 16% in 2006, while less than half of people (43%) say they are coping on their current income.

The research, looking at the impact of the financial crisis on people, surveyed 2,094 UK adults in November 2011 and also carried out in-depth interviews with 20 people.

The Which? Consumers 2012 report showed that most people have felt the impact of the downturn in one way or another, particularly since 2010.

One in four people have had to use their savings to buy food or other daily essentials, and one in five have gone into debt to do this.

The Which? report found 19% have got into debt to pay for everyday essentials, with a further 10% foresee having to do so.

It found people have changed their habits to deal with the tough times, including shopping around for groceries, buying things second-hand, switching energy supplier and avoiding taking out personal credit. More people are also socialising at home instead of going to the pub, with 38% doing this as a result of the downturn, the report found.

The recession has also led 29% of people to look for bargains in second-hand shops or charity shops, and 29% to forgo their annual holiday. And consumers are using the internet to find lower prices - 37% of people have started to look for deals online, while 35% said they have recently started to shop around for groceries.

The report described a "3D squeeze", that does not look solely at income, helping explain why some people earning the same have had very different experiences since 2007.

While those on higher incomes were more likely to be living comfortably or coping on their present income, those whose household income is well above average (more than £70,000) were only slightly more likely to say they are "coping" than those on household incomes of less than £8,000.

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