Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Financial watchdog urges consumers struggling with rising prices to seek help

The Financial Conduct Authority has urged struggling consumers to seek help as soon as possible after witnessing an increase in people worried about money due to the rising cost of living (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Financial Conduct Authority has urged struggling consumers to seek help as soon as possible after witnessing an increase in people worried about money due to the rising cost of living (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The financial watchdog has urged struggling consumers to seek help as soon as possible after witnessing an increase in people worried about money due to the rising cost of living.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Government-backed MoneyHelper platform have warned that millions of people may be missing out on support due to feelings of shame from seeking help.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, told the PA news agency that the organisation and lenders have to be proactive to ensure vulnerable consumers are supported.

“We are seeing a really serious and clear increase in economic stress,” he said.

“Inflation is continuing to increase, with figures at over 9%, but reports have highlighted that this is often a lot worse for the poorest so we have to be well-positioned to help those individuals.

“The survey we completed showed that people were feeling the pressure but also that they were worried about talking about it. We obviously want to highlight just how important it is people do talk.”

Research by the FCA and MoneyHelper found that 42% of borrowers who were struggling and ignored their lenders’ attempt to contact them had done so because they felt ashamed.

More than half (52%) of borrowers in financial difficulty waited more than a month before seeking help, according to the data, which covered the six months to the end of March.

Mr Mills also said the FCA is working to ensure people have access to support from their banks and responsible operators such as credit unions, to ensure people avoid illegal lenders.

“If you’re struggling financially the most important thing is to speak to someone,” he said.

“If you’re worried about keeping up with payments, talk to your lender as soon as possible, as they could offer affordable options to pay back what is owed.”

It comes weeks after the FCA wrote to high street banks and lenders, calling for them to be prepared for increased demand from consumers in financial difficulty.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, chief executive of the Money and Pensions Service, said: “We know many people are currently feeling increasingly worried about money as the cost of living rises and many may turn to different forms of borrowing to help.

“Our MoneyHelper website provides guidance on maximising your income as well as practical help on how to talk to creditors.

“For those who are already struggling to keep on top of bills and financial commitments, we suggest seeking free debt advice immediately.”