More than a third of people ‘have reduced their social activities amid the high cost of living’

People’s social lives are shrinking as they look for ways to cut living expenses, according to a debt relief charity.

More than four-fifths (84%) of people surveyed across the UK in August said they had been financially affected by the cost of living crisis.

Nearly (49 per cent) said their bills and costs had risen by £101-500 a month, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) said.

More than a third (37%) have cut socializing and leisure activities.

Six in 10 (61%) have reduced their energy consumption to save money, 46% shop more and use cheaper supermarkets and 16% skip meals, according to the survey of more than 2 200 people.

With a tough winter ahead, 13% of people are already behind on their bills and 42% have borrowed money to meet rising costs.

Of those who have borrowed money this year, 40% have borrowed £1,000 or more, and 15% have borrowed more than £3,000 in 2022.

More than a third (36%) of those whose debts are expected to take more than a year
to pay off the debts they have already accumulated in 2022, while 13% do not know how long it will take them to pay off their loan.

CAP external affairs director Gareth McNab said: “People are facing a personal and growing debt crisis.

“Low-income households have been hardest hit and have no choice but to borrow to pay for essentials. Many will be forced into much more debt during the colder months just to survive.

He added: “Living should not cost everything. But for millions, it is.

The government recently announced the Energy Price Guarantee, which will reduce the unit cost of electricity and gas so that a typical household in Britain is paying, on average, around £2,500 a year on its energy bill, for the next two years, from October 1st. 2022.

He also announced support including a £400 household rebate, as well as additional targeted support.

Measures including a series of tax cuts were also set out in Friday’s mini-budget.

The pound has since plunged to an all-time low against the US dollar amid hammering market confidence in economic plans. Experts have warned that the fall in the pound will drive up the cost of goods, potentially deepening the cost of living crisis.

CAP said those it helped included a man who previously worked on an oil rig and is now unable to work due to health issues.

The man, who receives Universal Credit, said: ‘The CAPs have been brilliant in reassuring you and giving you all the advice you need, but with the bills rising now it’s getting worse.

“I’m really scared about the upcoming gas bill.”

Joel C. Hicks