The cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom has seen nearly three-quarters of a million Britons miss a housing payment last month, according to data compiled by a leading consumer body.
Research conducted by the British consumer advocate agency Which? found that an estimated 700,000 people in the UK missed or defaulted on a rent or mortgage payment in April.
The consumer body reported that the problem paying for housing was “particularly high” among renters, with their figures finding that among those surveyed, one in 20 tenants had difficulties paying their housing bills, including energy costs and local council taxes.
Meanwhile, “a significant number” of Britons also missed their mortgage payments last month, with 3.1 per cent of borrowers struggling to keep pace with the seemingly ever-increasing interest rates from the Bank of England, which is expected to make its 12th straight hike to 4.5 per cent later this week.
In total, Which? estimated that some 2 million households defaulted on or missed a payment of a bill, credit card, loan, rent, or mortgage.
Approximately 16.6 million households were also believed to have made an “adjustment” in their monthly budgets, such as reducing expenditures on essentials, using their savings to cover increasing costs, selling something they own, or taking on more debt. This represented an increase from 35 per cent two years ago to 59 per cent today.
Which? said that while the 7.3 per cent missed payment rate was on par with figures from last year, it was higher than the previous two years. Perhaps showing some signs of improvement, however, given that it was a decrease from the 8.8 per cent missed payment rate — representing 2.5 million households — recorded in March.
The director of policy and advocacy for the consumer group, Rocio Concha said per The Guardian that it was “very worrying” such a high number of households were falling behind on housing bills, saying: “We’d encourage anyone who’s struggling to seek free debt advice and reach out to their mortgage provider or landlord for help.”
Despite the economic crisis facing millions of citizens, the poorly named Conservative Party of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has done little in the way of mitigating such damage — which came in large part as a result of the government’s decision to lock down the economy during the Chinese coronavirus and paying millions of people to stay home and businesses to remain shut, which was the initial impetus for the inflation crisis.
Rather than seeking to alleviate the hardships felt by the public, the government has instead has chosen to keep taxes at a seventy-year high, arguing that it is necessary to keep inflation at bay.
However, with inflation remaining in double digits, it appears that citizens don’t put much stock in the idea given that they turned away from the Conservatives in large numbers in last week’s council elections that saw the left-wing Labour Party become the largest party at the local level in England for the first time in twenty years.