Financial Fairness Tracker: December 2023

Turning a corner?

University of Bristol: Personal Finance Research Centre

December 2023

The latest Tracker asked 5,594 households about their income, payment of bills, borrowing, debt, savings and ability to pay for other essentials such as food.


  • In the past two years, an extra two million UK households have fallen into serious financial difficulties. The number of households in difficulties has risen from 2.8 million (or 10% of all households) to 4.8 million (17% of households). The overall situation in October 2023 remains similar to that of October 2022, indicating that the effects of the cost of living crisis continue to be felt by UK households.
  • Anxiety around finances has also improved a little. In October 2022, 61% agreed that thinking about their finances made them feel anxious. This has now dropped to 52%, which may be an improvement but still indicates high levels of financial worry overall.
  • Those in difficulty face real hardship, however, with 9% of all households having used a foodbank in the past six months. This rises to 24% among those receiving income-related benefits and 20% among those receiving disability-related benefits, suggesting that the level of benefits has become increasingly insufficient against a backdrop of rising costs.
  • Two-in-five (39%) of respondents told us that financial worries cause them to sleep poorly at night, but this rises to nearly seven-in-eight (85%) of those in serious financial difficulty.
  • A third (32%) of all households had problems with damp, mould or condensation, rising to half (51%) of those in serious financial difficulty.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of those in serious financial difficulty had taken on new debt in the past six months (compared with just 19% of financially secure households) – and a third (35%) had borrowed money for daily living expenses in the past four weeks. Nearly half (46%) of households in difficulty reported owing more than £5,000

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