An estimated 700,000 households across the UK missed rent or mortgage payments in April, according to Which?
The consumer group based the calculation on a survey of 2,000 people by Yonder, which indicated that around 2.5% of households had missed or defaulted on a housing payment in the previous month.
Missed housing payments were particularly high among renters – with around one in 20 (5.2%) renters surveyed missing a payment in the past month.
Nearly six in 10 (59%) people reported making at least one adjustment to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the past month.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “It’s very worrying that so many households are missing housing payments.
“We’d encourage anyone who’s struggling to seek free debt advice and reach out to their mortgage provider or landlord for help.
“As so many people face financial hardship, Which? is calling on businesses in essential sectors like food, energy and telecoms providers to do more to help customers get a good deal and avoid unnecessary or unfair costs and charges during this crisis.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Rising prices are painful for everyone, which is why it’s vital that we stick to our plan to halve inflation this year and grow our economy.
“We are also providing one of the most generous significant support packages in Europe – worth £3,300 per household on average over this year and last.
“That includes direct payments to the most vulnerable, holding down energy bills, cutting fuel duty and raising the national living wage to £10.42 an hour.”
The Government has worked with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to implement changes to mortgage lending rules, removing a regulatory barrier that prevented some mortgage prisoners from accessing new products.
These rules should help people to switch to an active lender, as long as they meet the lender’s risk appetite and certain criteria, such as not looking to borrow more.