More than 16 million people have missed payments on key household bills this year – two million of them for the first time.
The government-backed Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) says 30% of British adults have fallen behind on at least one payment in 2023.
Credit card repayments were the most common bill that went unpaid, followed by utilities, council tax and bank overdrafts or loans.
However, some people missed rent or mortgage payments.
MaPS is urging people to act now if they are struggling to make payments.
The organisation is advising those affected to speak to the companies they owe money to – as they may be able to offer a better deal, a more flexible payment arrangement, or contact with a charity that can help.
They also have a responsibility to treat you fairly by offering affordable options.
For people who have already missed payments, MaPS says they should consider taking free debt advice as soon as possible.
Charlotte Jackson, head of guidance at MaPS, said: “People are struggling this year and as these results suggest, some household budgets are becoming severely stretched.
“One in seven people currently wouldn’t take any action if they started to struggle, and this increases their risk of becoming stuck in the trap of long-term problem debt.”
She added: “Acting now will help you get some control over what’s happening, find out your options and avoid the devastation that debt can cause.”