FCA publishes cost of living report

The FCA has published its Financial Lives report on the increased cost of living for adults across the UK. The report is based on findings from the FCA’s recontact survey conducted with 3,450 individuals from December 2023 to January 2024.

The survey found that there has been an improvement in the number of adults struggling with higher costs since January 2023, though the figures are still worse than the FCA’s historic findings. Across six months to January 2024, utility bills were the most commonly missed payments, followed by credit card bills and council tax payments. In addition, the survey found that a disproportionate amount of adults from certain groups were finding it difficult to manage the higher costs of living, including:

  • adults from low-income households
  • unemployed adults and others not in work, such as long-term sick and full-time carers
  • renters
  • single adults with financially dependent children
  • those living in the North of England and in the most deprived areas of the UK

Key findings from the survey include:

  • more than a quarter of adults (14.6 million) reported either not coping financially or finding it difficult cope
  • 1 in 7 (7.4m) felt heavily burdened keeping up with their domestic bills and credit commitments in the last 6 months
  • 1 in 9 adults (5.9m) had no disposable income
  • 1 in 9 (5.9m) were in arrears for one or more domestic bills or credit commitments in the last 6 months

The FCA is reminding firms that they must work with customers to help manage payment difficulties, and has confirmed stronger protections for borrowers by making permanent its expectation of lenders to support borrowers in difficulty, with further specific changes to improve consumer outcomes.

Harry Wells