Most (83%) of people have seen an increase to their cost of living – suggesting the UK’s burgeoning inflation and energy prices are starting to take effect.
The current situation is hitting tenants hardest, as around half (53%) of adults who rent their home reported that they could not afford an unexpected expense compared with one in 10 (13%) homeowners.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Today’s ONS figures show that the cost-of-living crisis is piling on pressure across the country, and its renters’ pockets that are being hit the hardest.
“Our frontline services are already hearing from people who having to choose between putting food on the table, keeping the lights on, and paying their rent. With bills skyrocketing and rents higher than ever, far too many will struggle to keep a roof over the head as this crisis deepens in the coming months.
“If we’re going to prevent rising homelessness this year, the government must help renters weather the storm by making housing benefit fit for purpose. Long term, to insulate more people against cost-of-living shocks, we need investment in social homes with affordable rents pegged to local incomes.”
Estate agency body Propertymark blames the current situation on dwindling Universal Credit and Local Housing Allowance rates.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for trade body Propertymark, said: “We recently attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rental Sector and shared concerns that low income families in the private rented sector are the most vulnerable to the considerable pressure the market is facing.
“Universal Credit is not fit for purpose and Local Housing Allowance rates are in dire need of a review to keep up with rental prices.
“The UK Government need to take a serious look at the impact of recent and upcoming legislative changes that are causing a huge number of landlords to reconsider their investments at a time when they are being heavily relied upon by social housing providers who are also facing a drought of stock and investment.”
In early 2022 (6 January to 27 February 2022) an increase in the price of food shopping (90%), gas or electricity bills (79%) and the price of fuel (71%) were the most common reasons reported by adults who said that their cost of living had increased.