The FCA has today released new figures revealing the number of people struggling to meet bills and credit repayments now stands at 10.9m, a year-on-year rise of 3.1m people.
The regulator has repeated its calls to lenders to support customers as much as possible during such a difficult period for so many.
Responding to the figures, Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange, said:
"The FCA is right to highlight the plight of struggling borrowers. With millions of people struggling to keep up with repayments, we would urge firms to be proactive in identifying customers who are showing signs of difficulty at an early stage and focusing any communications on where to find help and tailored support, like signposting to free debt advice. We know from our own research that consumers in difficulty are unlikely to engage with communications that simply demand payment under threat of sanctions.
"The last twelve months has seen household budgets endure setback after setback, with once-in-a-generation levels of inflation compounded by rising interest rates and housing costs. Millions have had to make sacrifices in order to stay afloat, but many simply do not have the room in their budgets to absorb the dramatic price rises we’ve seen. As a result, demand for our services is at its highest level in more than three years, and we expect this to continue as cost pressures show little sign of abating.
"For anyone worried about their ability to cover credit or mortgage payments, it’s important to reach out for help as early as possible, whether that’s through contacting their lender, or a free debt advice charity like StepChange."