The UK’s financial watchdog has again reminded lenders to support customers with problems they may have in keeping up with payments.
A Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) survey in May last year found that 7.8 million people were struggling to meet bills and credit repayments. A new survey, this May, puts that figure at 10.9 million. During the same period, the number of adults who missed bills or loan payments in at least three of the past six months rose from 4.2 million to 5.6 million.
The cost-of-living crisis is also damaging mental health, it found, with 28.4 million people – around half of UK adults – now feeling more anxious or stressed by their finances than six months ago.
By January, around 6.2 million adults who had insurance and protection policies last spring had cancelled one or more policy and reduced their level of cover to save money.
Last July, the FCA wrote a letter to industry bosses warning them of their obligations to support customers. It also told 32 lenders to change how they treat clients, securing £29m in compensation for 80,000 people.
“We’ve told lenders that they should provide support tailored to needs,” said FCA executive director of consumers and competition Sheldon Mills. “We will continue to act quickly to make sure financial firms help their customers who are facing financial difficulty or are worried they might be soon.”