Third of UK 'can't cover unexpected bills'

More than a third of people in the UK are living on such a tight budget that they simply can't afford unexpected financial expenses, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The report, entitled 'Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK and EU', found that 36.6% of people could not afford to cover the cost of things like car repairs and broken boilers - a particular worry for many at this time of year.

It means that those people could find themselves in severe financial difficulty should they come up against a bill they haven't budgeted for - and in many cases that may mean getting into debt just to make ends meet.

An expert at debt management company Gregory Pennington commented: "It seems a large number of people in the UK are on the brink of real financial problems, over things that happen to us all. The cost of repairing a burst pipe or a broken window can easily be covered with savings in some cases - but not everyone has that luxury."

The report also addressed other things which may indicate a household is in, or near, the poverty line. The ONS classes a household in 'severe material deprivation' if the occupants cannot afford at least four of the following:

  • To pay their rent, mortgage, utility bills or loan repayments
  • To keep their home adequately warm
  • To face unexpected financial expenses
  • To eat meat or protein regularly
  • To go on holiday for a week once a year
  • A TV
  • A washing machine
  • A car
  • A telephone

Things have got gradually worse over the course of the study, which spans from 2005 to 2011. While more than a third today cannot afford unexpected bills, only 26.6% said the same in 2007.

Joel Stanier

Need expert help with your debts? Complete our form to request a callbackRequest a callback
  • 0161 669 8925
  • 0161 669 8925

Articles home

Top of page

What solutions are available?
Complete the form and our friendly advisor will call you back to discuss the best way forward.

Your total debt?


Just a few more details before we calculate your results

Go to final step

We just need a few more details

Please remember, the form above is just an information tool. One of our advisors will be in touch to answer any questions you may have and offer you more personalised advice on how to resolve your debt problems.
About us

We've been helping people get out of debt for almost 20 years. Read more about what we do and the charities we support.

Read more
Fees & key info

Read more about the fees involved with each of the solutions we provide.

Download the Insolvency Service guide to dealing with creditors.

Read here for information about our Complaints Procedure and referring a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Conditions Apply. Repaying your debt over a longer period of time can increase the total amount to be repaid. Your ability to obtain credit will be affected. Fees are payable when continuing service is provided.
Top 5 tips for
beating debt

Read our top 5 expert tips on how to beat debt and deal with your lenders.

Read more