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One in five borrow money to pay for food and essential bills

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An estimated 12 million people are now borrowing money to buy food and cover essential bills such as utility and housing costs, with half this number doing so for the very first time.

A quarter of people have relied on credit or money from family or friends to help them buy food in the last three months.

An equal number have requested the same to cover electricity and gas bills.

According to the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), half said they had never had to ask before now.

The survey of 2,180 UK adults also revealed 17% had to borrow money to cover rent or their mortgage, with half again needing cash for this purpose for the first time.

Meanwhile, one in five said they think they will need credit to get through the next three months, with 4% saying they “definitely would”.

The findings come as MaPS launches a campaign to help people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, which will run alongside the Government’s help for households.

The ‘MoneyHelper Cost of Living Campaign’ will see billboards and social media content to help raise awareness of the help and guidance available.

It focuses on MaPS’ MoneyHelper service which provides free money guidance from experts in a range of different formats, such as webchat, Whatsapp, phone and via a web form.

It also offers free tools to help people budget, prioritise bills and talk to creditors.

‘Financial stress a daily reality’

Caroline Siarkiewicz, chief executive of the Money and Pensions Service, said: “Relying on credit or the generosity of family and friends to put food on the table, heat your home and keep a roof over your head can be a constant source of stress. For millions of UK households, it’s also a daily reality.

“The MoneyHelper Cost of Living Campaign aims to reach everyone who’s worrying about money, so we can show them that free, independent help is available whenever they need it.

“If you’re already struggling, or you’re worried things are heading that way, it can feel like there’s no way forward. However, the first step to solving money problems is knowing where to turn.

“You can turn to us, free, in confidence and at any time, so I’d urge you to contact us for money guidance as soon as you think you need it.”

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