Almost one-quarter of households regularly run out of money for essentials and voters do not believe the Government is doing enough to help, according to a group of charities.
Nationally, 37% of people end the month with no money left over, while nearly one-quarter (24%) run out of money for essentials either most months or most days, a survey for the Together Through This Crisis initiative set up by the charities Save the Children, Turn2us, Little Village, Shelter and 38 Degrees found.
Even among the 10 most affluent constituencies in the UK, 19% of people said they found themselves unable to pay for food or bills by the end of most months, increasing to 26% of those in the 10 most deprived constituencies, the poll suggests.
Overall, 6% of people said they could not pay for essentials most days, rising to 11% in the most deprived areas.
Some 67% described the UK Government as “not doing enough” to address the cost-of-living crisis.
Together Through This Crisis has written an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt asking them to “take action to ensure the crisis illustrated by these figures does not become the UK’s new normal”.
The letter specifically calls for effective, ongoing energy bill support, the expansion of free school meals to all children, prioritising families receiving Universal Credit or equivalent benefits and unfreezing housing benefit.
38 Degrees chief executive Matthew McGregor said: “This polling paints a bleak picture of the crisis unfolding across the country: families running out of money to put food on the table and keep kids warm is rapidly becoming our new normal.
“As the Spring statement looms, a united message is coming through loud and clear from the British public – in the most and least deprived corners of our country – Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt: do your jobs. Stop kids going hungry, end the energy bill ticking timebomb and relieve the sickening worry from families fearing the worst.”
Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at Save The Children, said: “Whether you’re in a rich or poor area, the majority of people believe the UK government isn’t doing enough to help people in the cost-of-living crisis. Families are now existing month to month, even day to day in some cases, and going without essentials, making us deeply worried about the impact this has on children.
“The Spring Budget is a chance to take action to help families and one valuable step forwards would be to provide free school meals to all families on Universal Credit.
“Investing in a childcare system that works, especially for parents on low incomes, and a social security system that provides a reliable safety net are other crucial ways to ease the burden.”
“That nearly a quarter of households are running out of money for essentials is the reality of 13 years of Tory economic mismanagement.”
The initiative comes as Macmillan Cancer Support warned that patients were resorting to selling possessions and using loan sharks to make ends meet in the cost-of-living crisis.
A survey for the charity suggests that 16% of people going through or recovering from cancer treatment in the UK have had to sell personal possessions or borrow money to make ends meet, with almost one-in-three (31%) struggling to pay their basic living costs.
In some extreme cases, patients were resorting to borrowing money from unlicensed lenders such as loan sharks, while others were at risk of eviction from their homes.
More than a third of patients (39%) have been buying or eating less food, and 22% have been spending more time in bed to stay warm.
The charity said it had seen a 22% jump in calls about financial issues taken by its Support Line so far this year.
Richard Pugh, head of partnerships at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Every day we’re hearing from people living with cancer who are struggling to get by and pay for the very basics.
“It’s heart-breaking that people are now being left with no other choice than to sell their personal possessions or take out loans pushing them into debt.
“We know that this is a very difficult time for many people and that it can be hard to make the first move in reaching out for support. It’s crucial that anyone who is feeling the pressure knows that we are here for them. We have specially trained teams on our Support Line who can offer confidential advice or simply provide a listening ear during this challenging time.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We understand how difficult and life-altering a cancer diagnosis can be which is why we’re committed to getting people the support they’re entitled to as quickly as possible, and we will backdate awards to ensure no one misses out.
“We are working constantly to make improvements to our service by boosting resources and opening up assessments by phone and video, and the latest statistics show clearance times have greatly improved, returning to pre-pandemic levels.
“We are also protecting the most vulnerable households across the UK – saving households around £1,300 on energy bills this winter and providing a further £12 billion of direct support in 2023-24, including £900 worth of cost-of-living help for those on means-tested benefits.”
Survation surveyed 2,014 UK adults for Together Through This Crisis between February 10-14.
YouGov surveyed 2,020 UK adults for Macmillan between November 4-28.