More than a third of people ‘have cut social activities amid high living costs’

People’s social lives are shrinking as they search for ways to cut back on their living costs, according to a debt help charity.

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

Nearly (49%), reported their bills and costs have risen by between £101 and £500 a month, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) said.

Over a third (37%) have cut out socialising and leisure activities.

Six in 10 (61%) have reduced their energy use to save money, 46% are shopping around more and using cheaper supermarkets and 16% are skipping meals, the survey of more than 2,200 people found.

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

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

Over a third (36%) of those with debts expected to take over a year
to repay the debts they have already built up in 2022, while 13% do not know how long it will take them to pay their borrowing back.

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

“Low income households have been hit the hardest and are being left with little choice but to borrow to pay for essentials. Many will be forced to take on a lot more debt during the colder months just to survive.”

He added: “Living shouldn’t cost everything. But for millions, it does.”

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 pays, on average, around £2,500 a year on their energy bill, for the next two years, from October 1 2022.

It has also announced support including a £400 discount for households, plus additional targeted support.

Measures including a raft of tax cuts were also set out in the mini-budget on Friday.

The pound has since plunged to an all-time low against the US dollar amid hammered market confidence in the economic plans. Experts have warned the pound’s plunge will send the cost of goods higher, potentially worsening the cost-of-living crisis.

CAP said the people it has helped include a man who previously worked on an oil rig who is now unable to work due to ill health.

The man, who receives Universal Credit, said: “CAP have been brilliant as they put your mind at rest and give you all the advice you need but with the bills increasing now, it’s getting worse.

“I’m really frightened about the gas bill coming.”