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Three in 10 families with children ‘have struggled with bills in past week’

The proportion of families with children at home who are struggling with bills is the highest since comparethemarket’s research started 10 weeks ago.

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Three in 10 families with children living at home say they have struggled to pay their bills over the past week, according to comparethemarket.com (Joe Giddens/PA)

Three in 10 families with children living at home say they have struggled to pay their bills over the past week, according to comparethemarket.com (Joe Giddens/PA)

Three in 10 families with children living at home say they have struggled to pay their bills over the past week, according to comparethemarket.com (Joe Giddens/PA)

Three in 10 (30%) families with children living at home say they have had difficulty paying their bills over the past week, a survey has found.

It marks the highest proportion of families reporting they are struggling with bills since comparethemarket.com’s weekly household financial confidence tracker started 10 weeks ago.

The latest research was carried out between June 26 and 28.

In a previous survey, a week earlier, 23% of families with children living at home had said they were struggling with bills.

Mirroring the spike in families struggling to pay the bills, the proportion of families with children at home who are not confident of being able to make ends meet financially over the coming weeks jumped to 27% in the latest survey, up from 23% the previous week.

Across the UK, nearly four in 10 (38%) households said their finances have suffered since the start of the coronavirus lockdown on March 23.

These households typically thought it would take them nine months to get back on track.

More than two-fifths (44%) expect the way they manage their household finances to change as a result of the pandemic.

Some 43% of people generally said they will make an active effort to save more money, jumping to more than half (51%) of families with children at home.

Some 29% will reduce the number of luxuries or discretionary items they buy, including 35% of families with children at home.

Families with children at home were also more likely than the average population to say they will try to use less petrol.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of households generally will make an effort to use less petrol, rising to 22% among families with children at home.

The research found families with children at home were more likely to have dipped into their savings and taken on more debt during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Some 28% have dipped into savings, compared with 23% of households with no children at home.

And 12% have taken on more debt, versus 5% of households without children at home, in order to make ends meet over the past few months.

The second half of 2020 promises to be a real challenge for many peopleAnna McEntee, comparethemarket.com

Anna McEntee, product director at comparethemarket.com, said: “The lockdown has had a profound impact on society and has clearly altered the shape of our personal finances.

“Many household budgets will be changed dramatically for the long term, with many people forced to make financial sacrifices and adapt how they spend.

“Households expect it to take the best part of a year before their finances return to how they were before lockdown.

“As the furlough scheme is slowly wound down, businesses will come under further financial pressure, which could have a knock-on effect on their employees.”

She added: “The second half of 2020 promises to be a real challenge for many people.”

In signs that the hospitality industry will continue to suffer even as some firms start to reopen, the proportion of households saying they are uncomfortable visiting pubs, restaurants and cafes once they reopen has jumped to 58%, up from 52% the previous week.

This also marks the highest level recorded by the tracker over the past 10 weeks.

Half (50%) of those polled said they would not feel in control of their surroundings and therefore would not enjoy themselves.

Seven in 10 (70%) people said they are unlikely to visit music venues in the near term and two-thirds (66%) said they will avoid theme parks.

The outlook seems brighter for hairdressers – with a significant number of people appearing to be desperate for a trim.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of people surveyed said they wanted to book a haircut “as soon as they possibly can”, while fewer than one in 10 (9%) said the same about going for a drink in the pub.

Ms McEntee added: “Businesses will no doubt be taking all precautions possible to ensure staff and customers are safe, but, with consumer confidence apparently heading in the wrong direction, the road to economic recovery will be a bumpy one, especially for those sectors most severely impacted by the pandemic.”

– More than 2,000 people took place in the latest survey.

PA