More than four in ten mortgage holders and renters say they are struggling to afford their housing costs, official data shows.   

It found that 42% of mortgaged homeowners and tenants said they found it “very, or somewhat difficult, affording these payments,” according to the latest Office for National Statistics public opinions and social trends survey, up from 35% a year ago.  

The report adds that 45% of those surveyed say that their rent or mortgage payments had gone up in the past six months.  

Also, 51% of adults report that their cost of living had gone up compared to the previous month, 46% reported it had stayed the same, while 3% said it had fallen.  

The study found that 67% of consumers were spending less on non-essentials due to the rise in living costs.  

Half added they were shopping around more, and 45% said they were spending less on food shopping and essentials.  

Of those surveyed, 89% said the cost of living is “the most important issue facing the UK today”, ahead of the NHS, 86%, the economy 73%, and housing, 64%.  

The poll comes after the Bank of England’s base rate rise of 25bps to 5.25% last month, its 14th consecutive rise taking it to the highest level for 15 years.          

The central bank is battling inflation, which fell to 6.8% in the year to July from 7.9% in June, but still remains almost three-and-a-half times higher than its 2% target.    

The Bank is widely expected to hike the base rate again by 25bps to 5.5% later this month, where many economists say it will remain until the end of the year. This is down from a predicted peak of 5.75% earlier this summer.  

The ONS survey sampled 5,002 households between 23 August to 3 September.  

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