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Four in five people have said they’re suffering with their mental health due to the cost-of-living crisis, our latest survey has revealed.

Results from our recent impact survey highlighted that 79% of respondents also felt increasingly isolated because of the cost-of-living crisis.

At the end of last year, while we were experiencing record levels of demand, we reached out to those who’d approached us for help in 2022 to find out more about what our customers were experiencing, how they were coping day-to-day and what effect the cost-of-living crisis was having on their finances, health, and lifestyle.

Below, we’ve detailed the results of our survey…

The squeezed middle-class

One in ten customers who’ve approached PayPlan for help are from higher-income households that earn over £60,000 per year. This is before we’ve seen the full impact on this population of mortgage interest rate rises.

The biggest financial concerns

People approaching PayPlan are also more indebted than in previous years (with a typical customer now having ten lines of credit plus priority arrears, which include rent, council tax, mortgage and energy). Debt repayments continue to burden many (69%), closely followed by energy bills (63%) and rent and mortgage payments (41%). In general, people are extremely worried about all their payments – and have indicated what support they need more of, including better forbearance options and increased support with budgeting.

Life on hold for many

We also found that people are delaying major life events, such as retiring and putting off moving house following a relationship breakdown. Worryingly, maintaining good health has also been put on hold in some cases.

One respondent said: “I’m putting off getting my medication to treat my depression, spinal problems and having the surgery I need, which is prohibiting my ability to work.”

Nearly half (43%) of respondents revealed they had cancelled medical appointments due to not being able to afford to travel there or pay for necessary prescriptions.

It’s not just the financial impact it’s having

Social isolation has come through as a common theme from our survey as 41% of respondents said the crisis has impacted their relationships while 79% reported that they’d become increasingly isolated by avoiding socialising.

One respondent shared: “I just feel so alone and I’m very close to ending my life. I can’t see any way out of this mess.”

And another respondent added: “I don’t have a social life. I often don’t speak to a person for six weeks or so.”

The positive impact of free debt advice

Rachel Duffey, our CEO, said: “It’s evident from our survey that people are struggling to keep afloat and the effects of higher prices are seeping into many aspects of day-to-day life.

“It’s no surprise 2022 was our busiest year on record, surpassing the levels we saw during the pandemic.

“What’s a huge positive is people are reaching out for help sooner. As the crisis doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, we really want to highlight the importance of banks, lenders, debt advice organisations and utilities providers working in a joined-up way to really ensure people are getting the support they need, when they need it.

“The effects this [the crisis] is having on mental health is really worrying and ensuring people are able to receive help in an efficient and effective way, as we continue into 2023 and its new challenges, is crucial.”

You can also check out our impact report here: How customer needs are changing in 2023.