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Consumer worry about housing costs hits ‘highest recorded level’ – Which?

Around 80% of mortgage owners and renters are worried about housing costs amid the looming threat of rising interest rates this month, according to a poll.

Which?’s Consumer Insight Tracker found 79% of mortgage owners and 81% of renters are worried about housing costs, the highest level since the survey began in 2013.

There has been a steady increase in housing cost concern among renters over the past two years, with 62% saying they were worried in August 2021.

Worries about housing costs have risen even faster for mortgage holders due to high interest rates, from around half before December 2021 when hikes began.

However, despite the rise in worry, the number of people missing a mortgage or rental payment has remained steady at an estimated 630,000 households in the month to August 10.

Some 2.2 million households missed or defaulted on an essential payment such as a housing, bill, loan or credit card payment over the month.

Of those who missed a household bill payment, half (50%) missed a council tax bill, almost half (46%) missed a water bill and four in 10 (48%) missed an energy bill.

Two thirds (61%) of those who missed a household bill payment reported that they missed more than one.

More than half of households (56%) reported making at least one adjustment such as cutting back on essentials, dipping into savings, selling possessions or borrowing to cover essential spending such as utility bills, housing costs, groceries, school supplies and medicines in the last month, slightly down from last month’s 59%.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Although UK inflation is slowly starting to fall, these record levels of worry about housing costs and the looming threat of higher interest rates later this month shows that for many people, the cost-of-living crisis is far from over. 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.”