Homeowners hit hard by household bill increases

And as consumers face average water bill increases of 5.7% this month, one in 10 people (10%) say they would not be able to manage financially if their household bills were to rise further over the next 12 months.

A further third (36%) say they would only be able to manage by making sacrifices elsewhere.

Santander’s analysis reveals that the price of gas has almost trebled (up 181%) in the past 10 years. Electricity has doubled (up 109%), while water bills have risen by 64%, and council tax is up by 57%.

By comparison, salaries have risen from £16,964 in 2001 to £21,093 in 2011, according to latest figures from the ONS – an increase of just 24%, while RPI has risen by 38% and household bills have gone up by 71%.

Almost eight in 10 Brits say their life has been impacted in some way in the past year because of rising household bills, including 29% who say the increases have reduced their overall standard of living and 45% who have become more thrifty because of them.

The findings show that 85% of Britons have made changes at home in the past year alone to reduce the financial impact of their household bills.

Two-thirds of people are using their heating less or have started turning it down, and one-third are using less water.

One in five people have reduced or stopped using appliances such as tumble dryers that use a lot of power, and one in 10 have watched less TV in an effort to reduce their bills. One in five (19%) have made their home more energy-efficient and 9% say they have installed a home energy monitor.

Increasing household bills have also forced Brits to take their finances more seriously. Some 17% say they now dedicate more time to reviewing their bills and 8% have put more money in emergency savings so when bills come in they can afford to pay them. Around one in seven people has changed energy supplier and one in 20 changed bank account in order to get cashback or rewards.

Carlos Palacios, banking director at Santander, said: "Times are tough for a lot of people at the moment and increasing household bills are one of the biggest causes of squeezed consumer finances.

"People have already been forced to make a number of adjustments to their lifestyle to cope with the hikes, and many will struggle to cope with further increases such as the water bill hikes recently announced."

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