“Record numbers” of people in the region are struggling to make ends meet, it has been said, after a report found that 20% of people were in dire straights.

A report from the Financial Conduct Authority released on Wednesday (April 10) found the data for the East of England had risen by almost a fifth since February 2020, before the pandemic and cost of living crisis began. 

The region did however have the lowest proportion of adults not coping financially or finding it difficult to cope compared with the rest of the country, according to the FCA's cost of living survey.

The chief officer of Citizens Advice Ipswich has said the data “should be cause for alarm”.

Nicky Willshere said: "While some might be seeing financial pressures ease, many thousands of households in the East of England still struggling just to afford the basics should be a cause for alarm.

“Every day, we continue to see record numbers of people who need support from food banks, who can't afford to turn on their heating or electricity and people who've been made homeless by soaring housing costs.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Citizens Advice in Tower Street.Ipswich Citizens Advice in Tower Street. (Image: Dolly Carter, Newsquest)

“Politicians have taken some welcome steps to boost incomes, but this simply isn’t enough to tackle the deep-rooted issues which are driving the decline in living standards.”

Tara Spence, CEO of the Home-Start Suffolk charity, added: “One of the top ten concerns that families report to us when they are referred to our service continues to be financial difficulties. 

"Families talk to us about the challenges posed by a variety of financial strains, including rising rent and mortgage payments, expensive food, energy and heating bills, and additional expenses for items such as school uniforms and field trips.

Read more: Ipswich has one of the UK's highest levels of poverty - the reason may surprise you

"Home-Start in Suffolk does not primarily support families due to financial constraints, but financial difficulties do exacerbate the effects of other pressures that families might face, such as providing care for family members who have a long-term medical condition, managing a separation or divorce, supporting children who have special educational needs, or any of the many other challenges that families face.

"Furthermore, not just our clients have been affected by the present economic difficulties. As a charity that relies on volunteers to support local families, we are seeing a decline in the number of new potential volunteers with available time to work with us and an increase in the number of our current volunteers who have had to take on more hours or return to work after retirement.

"The combination of rising demand, declining volunteerism, and diminishing funds and donations available to serve people makes this a very difficult period for the charity sector.”