There are now 27.7 million adults in the UK with characteristics of vulnerability, according to a new survey from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The Financial Lives Survey (FLS) was conducted in February, but the FCA ran an extra survey in October to gauge the impact of the pandemic on the financial situation of consumers.
The number of consumers exhibiting vulnerable characteristics is up 15% since February, when 24 million displayed characteristics of vulnerability. These included poor health, low financial resilience or recent negative life events.
According to the survey, in October, one in three adults said they expect their household income to fall during the next six months, while 25% expected to struggle to make ends meet.
To cope with expected hardships, 17.5 million adults said they were likely to cut back on essentials. Almost six million are expecting to use a food bank, and just over eight million anticipate taking on more debt.
Nisha Arora, director of consumer and retail policy at the FCA, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the number of people experiencing low financial resilience or negative life events has grown. The pain is not being shared equality with a higher than average proportion of younger and BAME adults becoming vulnerable since March.
“It is likely the picture will have got worse since we conducted the survey.”
Last year, a debt charity warned that the nation is "sleep-walking into a £10bn debt crisis" as consumers borrow more to cope with the impact of the pandemic.