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UK households increasingly reliant on credit to make ends meet

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Three quarters (76%) of British households are reliant on credit to make ends meet, according the latest Disposable Income Index (DII) from Scottish Friendly and Social Market Foundation.

Nearly one in five (17%) Brits who are credit dependent found themselves short of money on more than five occasions in the last 12 months and needed credit to support themselves until their next pay cheque.

Moreover, a third (36%) of Brits are worried about their level of indebtedness, while 49% of households with children are concerned about the amount they borrow. However, more than four in ten (44%) Brits said they did not know how much interest they were paying on their most recent line of credit.

The report shows that the median UK household has £1,067 left each month after paying for essentials, including housing, energy, water and a broader basket of goods including groceries, transport, childcare and broadband internet. Disposable income would cover furniture, savings and holidays.

The report reveals some pessimism about their financial outlook, with 42% saying they have less cash now than a year ago. Only 35% believe they will be better off in 12 months’ time, blaming higher inflation and an insecure jobs market post-Brexit.

This echoes a recent YouGov poll, which found that consumer confidence slumped in the aftermath of the general election to its lowest level since the Brexit vote.

58% of 18-24 year olds and two-thirds (66%) of those aged 25-34 are anxious about their ability to cover an unexpected bill (for example, if the car or washing machine broke). There is also a generational divide when it comes to credit. When asked if households were using credit more or less often than 12 months ago, millennials were the most likely to be using it more often: one in five (20%) reported this, compared to one in six (17%) of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) and one in ten (11%) of Baby boomers (born between 1946  and 1965).

Calum Bennie, savings expert at Scottish Friendly, said: “The findings of our latest Index put into context the real-life impact of rising inflation and poor wage growth. Many households are finding managing their money hard going and are under pressure to make ends meet on a monthly basis. But with Brexit undeniably beginning to bite, it’s Brits on lower incomes who will really feel the pinch over the next year.

“Alongside this, we’ve found that younger people and households with children are also struggling and are most likely to become over-reliant on credit. Whether it’s a credit card, overdraft, loan or cash from friends and family, Brits are becoming increasingly dependent on credit just to get by.”

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