Money Wellness
Image of lots of newspaper clipping with cost of living headlines. Households have less than £100 to live on each month. Find cost of living support here
category iconcost of living
calendar icon31 Jan 2024

One in five families have less than £100 a month to live on

More than one in five households (22%) have less than £100 spare each month, according to a new report from the building society Nationwide.

Continued high costs – from mortgage or rent payments to food, energy and fuel - have led to more than two thirds (69%) of households feeling more worried about their finances in 2024 than they were a year ago.

And the average amount of money they have left over after paying bills has also dropped from £328 in 2021 to £295 in 2022 and £237 at the end of 2023.

While the number of households living on less than £100 a month has almost doubled since 2021. And the percentage of those with no money left at all by the end of each month has also increased nearly twofold, from 11% in 2022 to 21% in 2023.

Nationwide has used the report to reaffirm its support for customers struggling with the cost of living. It has a dedicated phoneline – 0800 030 40 66 - for anyone who needs help and also has trained experts available for face-to-face support in-branch.

Cost of living support

If you need help, you’re not alone. 49% of the people who contact us have a negative gross disposable income – they have more going out than coming in – each month. A further 11% have less than £100 left each month after all their bills are paid.


Creating a budget can help you gain control over your finances. It allows you to prioritise your spending, track how you’re doing and realise when you need to make changes.

You can use our free budgeting tool as a starting point to see what you’re spending and if there’s any areas where you can make savings.

Check benefits and financial support you can get

£19 billion worth of benefits goes unclaimed each year. You could be missing out on extra money that you’re entitled to without evening knowing it.
Use our free benefits calculator to see if there’s more support available than you’re currently getting.

Household Support Fund

Your local council could help you with money or vouchers towards your energy bills, food or clothing and electrical goods. What you get will depend on how your council has chosen to spend its allocation of the household support fund. Contact your local council for more details about what support they have available.

You should also speak to your local council to see if you’re entitled to a reduction in your council tax payments. You bill could be reduced by up to 100% but what you get will again depend on your local council scheme.

Speak to your suppliers

If you’re on a low income or claiming certain benefits, such as universal credit or pension credit, you might be eligible for social tariffs on your energy, broadband, mobile phone, and water bills.

Social tariffs – also known as basic tariffs – offer the same services at lower/discounted prices. Each provider has its own criteria so it’s best to contact them directly to see what you could save but it’s likely to be £100’s.

If you’re in debt to your providers, speak to them. They will work with you to find a solution that works for both of you. Energy providers even have hardship grants available where they can write off debts, top up meters or move you on to lower tariffs.

Food banks

If you’re struggling to afford to fill your cupboards, a food bank might be able to provide emergency help. There are at least 1,172 independent food banks operating across the UK. To access help from them you’ll need a referral from a frontline professional such as a health visitor, social work, doctor, your child’s school, or Citizen’s Advice. Find your nearest one at Food Aid Network or Trussell Trust.

Get debt advice

If your outgoings regularly exceed your income, you should seek free debt advice. We can work with you to find the right solution to get you out of debt.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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