Families 'battle to make ends meet'
More than 70% of families are financially "on the edge", according to new research.
They are teetering on the brink of poverty and could face ruin if hit by further price increases or falls in their income, the study by parenting site Netmums found.
The survey of more than 2,000 mothers found that one in five was regularly missing meals so her children could eat. A quarter of families are living on credit cards, 5% take regular payday loans and one in 100 has turned to loan sharks to stay afloat.
The poll also found that almost half of families have sold or pawned goods to make money to live, while 16% are being treated for a stress-related illness because of lack of cash.
Almost two-thirds (64%) have less money coming in than this time last year, and 61% are short of money every week. Almost a third (30%) have borrowed money from friends and family, a quarter (24%) are living on credit cards and one in 20 has taken out a bank loan to fund everyday living.
Netmums founder Sally Russell said: "It's shocking that seven in 10 families in the UK today are living on the edge of existence - but it's a crisis that needs exposing.
"Mums shouldn't be missing meals to feed their children or turning to loan sharks in modern Britain. Family finances are so strained that any more pressure will turn this personal crisis into a catastrophe for the nation."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Our welfare reforms will have a dynamic impact on some of the poorest families and will lift over one million people out of poverty. We continue to support low income families and put £6.5 billion a year into financial support for lone parents."
She added: "This is why we need credit unions to be supported and strengthened to ensure that illegal loan sharks can't plague the homes of vulnerable people and offer a real alternative to doorstep and payday lenders.
"We are working on the best ways to help credit unions expand and modernise so that more families can have access to affordable credit."