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Broke Britain: Large Sections of UK Population Missed Rent or Mortgage Payments in April

As Rishi Sunak takes down the bunting and tables outside Number 10 Downing Street after celebrating King Charles III’s coronation over the extra bank holiday weekend, advisors will ensure that the Prime Minister is alerted to the country’s latest economic challenges.

King Charles III’s coronation was the first coronation in seventy years and reportedly cost the UK over one hundred million pounds. Figures published by Which? this week illustrates a strikingly different set of economic realities for many Britons compared to that of the ‘scaled-back’ coronation.  

Sunak and Biden

The consumer body Which? revealed that approximately seven hundred thousand UK households missed either rent or mortgage payments in April 2023. When read alongside Rightmove’s recent study that found national average rents outside of London have risen for thirteen consecutive quarters since the end of 2019, and average London rents have hit a record £2500 per month, it is difficult to conclude that the UK housing market is wholly working for all of its citizens.

Which? identified that missing housing payments were ‘particularly high’ amongst renters, affecting one in twenty of those surveyed. This is unsurprising, as landlords have passed on rising costs to tenants in the post-pandemic environment, with average rents soaring at twice the pace of wages in 2022.


Commentators and politicians that suggest economic difficulties are easing are disputed by those that work with the most economically vulnerable in society. Dads House charity worker Billy McGranaghan stated that he had witnessed a significant increase in families approaching his organisation for financial assistance after missing payments. He envisaged the situation was ‘going to get worse before it gets better.’ The Bank of England is set to raise interest rates for a twelfth consecutive time this month, piling additional pressure on both mortgage holders and renters as the cost of borrowing increases.

Single renters in Britain currently depart with approximately thirty-five percent of their income to pay for their accommodation. This is the highest rate in over a decade, and Zoopla anticipates that this figure will increase to forty percent in the near future.


The report published by Which? illustrates a deeper, more ingrained problem with the British economy, interlinked between wages, property prices, and the cost of everyday living that has engulfed many working people over the past several years. It revealed that approximately two million British households ‘missed or defaulted on at least one mortgage, rent, loan, credit card, or bill payment’ in April 2023. In addition, this included fifty-nine percent of those surveyed making severe adjustments to their spending habits, including selling possessions and further borrowing to attempt to keep up with the cost of everyday essentials and important payments. Greg Marsh, CEO of Nous.Co stated that the sheer number of people missing an ‘essential payment’ is ‘extremely concerning.’

Families struggling to pay

Those that suggest the situation is improving point to the fact that the number of households that missed or defaulted on payments was estimated to be two and a half million in March 2023. April, therefore, illustrates a decrease. Yet Britain’s current economic state is unsustainable for those hit hardest in British society and is now increasingly impacting middle-income earners who wield less disposable income as wages stagnate and rents and mortgage rates increase. The next general election will be fought not over Brexit or immigration but on bread-and-butter economic issues that will include the prices of essentials in the prolonging cost-of-living crisis.

The Overton window may be shifting. Skipton Building Society is now offering UK renters with a good history of payments a ‘deposit-free’ one hundred percent mortgage deal. This is the first one hundred percent mortgage offer on the UK market since 2008 – the year of the financial crash and when the exponential growth of UK property prices throughout the new millennium finally burst. Skipton’s offer will be welcome news to Britons trapped in rented accommodation, yet some experts have warned of the ‘great danger’ the deal may have in encouraging another crash. The fear is centred around the deal being provided en masse. However commentators have noted that regulation and background checks on potential buyers will likely be ‘a lot tighter’.  

100 percent mortgages back on the UK market

The return of this scheme is indicative of the current state of Britain’s housing market and its citizens' relationship within that model. But it is also a wider reflection of the general economic malaise many Britons are experiencing. It will, however, take more than deposit-free loans to witness more encouraging figures in the next Which? analysis of the British economy.

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