Recession-hit families in the UK are borrowing billions of pounds each month just to pay off their household bills, dramatic new research has found.
Almost 14 million people across the nation now borrow cash, with a total value of £3.6 billion, to cover their household bills in an average month, according to a study released on behalf of the Santander 123 account.
That is equivalent to around £259 per person who has to borrow money each month, with an overdraft being the most common way of doing so.
But there are big concerns about the extent to which families are struggling to make ends meet, as the poll revealed the number who are having to turn to payday loans in order to get by each month.
It revealed that every month more than a million people are borrowing an average sum of £153 each from payday lenders to cover basic monthly bills such as council tax, water, gas and electric payments.
Best utility deals
But it appears that British families could do more to seek out the best deals on gas, electricity, TV subscriptions and other services.
The Santander survey suggests that just under a third of Britons regularly shop around for cheaper deals - meaning that many families may be paying out more than they actually need to.
Commenting on the latest findings, Santander banking director Reza Attar-Zadeh said that in an ideal world household bills would be one of the first things covered when people's pay-days arrive, but in the current climate this is proving impossible for many people.
The expert stated: "The cost of living is going up, are regularly borrowing money to make ends meet which cannot be sustained in the long run."