Middle-aged Britons are running up debts as they struggle to pay the bills. The new “squeezed middle” – originally those struggling on middle incomes – are increasingly turning to credit cards, overdrafts and loans to make ends meet.
Sixteen percent of those aged 55-plus have paid their bills with borrowed money or with a credit card in recent months.
The younger middle-aged are the most likely of all age groups to resort to debt, with 37 percent admitting doing so.
This is significantly more than the population as a whole (26 percent), a survey of more than 10,000 UK adults by the Resolution Foundation think tank found.
The research adds to calls for the Government to consider tax cuts before next year’s election.
The most recent forecast by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research showed middle-earning households will see their real incomes fall by around 6.2 percent, or £1,077 in 2023-24.
Molly Broome, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Almost everyone has been affected by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, but different people have used different coping mechanisms to get by.
“Over one in three middle-aged people have turned to credit cards, overdrafts or other further loans to cope with rising cost pressures.
“Poorer households have had to turn to more extreme measures, with around 500,000 people visiting a food or warm bank in the past month. The crisis isn’t just causing financial distress – it’s worsening physical and mental health.
“While the crisis should start to ease soon, its consequences will stay with us for some time.” The Foundation’s new report, Hoping And Coping, supported by the Health Foundation, notes almost everyone has been affected by soaring inflation, with 75 per cent reporting cutting back on spending.
It said around one in seven (1.7 million) adults in low income families ate less or skipped meals for seven days in the past month – twice as much as the population as a whole (eight per cent).
Those falling behind on at least two bills are three times as likely to report poor mental health as those that haven’t.
Older people (aged 75 and over) and those living in the richest fifth of households have been more insulated from the crisis.
Dave Finch, assistant director at the Health Foundation, said: “With high prices set to continue and incomes unlikely to rise to meet them, this grim picture is unlikely to change soon.”
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