Britons 'struggling to clear debts'

card machineOne quarter of Britons will not have cleared their Christmas debt until they get next month's pay packet, research suggests.

Just over one fifth (22%) of people also said they do not foresee being able to pay off the debts they accumulated last year during 2013 at all, the Co-operative Bank found.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Consumers spent an average of £350 more than their budget allowed in December, and only one in 10 said they had managed to get back on track by the time they reached last month's payday.

Two-thirds of people reported living on less disposable income than usual this month and are typically trying to stretch out a budget of £192 to last for the whole of February.

The most popular ways of trying to rein back budgets given included trying to cut regular shopping bills, reducing spending on clothing and socialising less often. Plundering overdrafts, credit cards and savings were also given as the main methods that people were using to get by.

Rising food and rent costs have placed increased pressure on households' budgets in recent months as wages remain stagnant, and a string of energy companies recently announced winter price hikes.

Research published last week by the AA showed that the petrol has risen by 6.24p a litre since early January, adding £3.12 to the cost of refilling a typical 50-litre tank.

The Co-op said its research suggests that consumers tend to face their greatest financial struggles in February and June each year, due to ongoing debt stemming from the festive season and the cost of summer holidays. However, families also told the Co-op survey that they also expect to shell out an extra £167 typically over Easter, with a third saying this cash will purely go on entertaining their children.

May is the month when people feel they are most likely to be able to save some cash, although four in 10 people said they regularly budget for the more expensive times of the year, putting £90 a month on average away.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed across the UK for the research.

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