Pay packets provide just £27 a week

Financial drains such as mortgages, utility bills, taxes and credit card debt cost the average Briton £954 every month, yet monthly take-home pay is only an average of £1,070.

“Millions of Brits are living on the edge by failing to protect the lifestyles they have become accustomed to,” warned Nigel Brittle at Combined Insurance which conducted the survey.

Rising fuel bills and council tax hikes are the most likely reasons for the large amount of monthly commitments.

However, unsecured debt adds a great deal to the problem: loans and plastic debt are an average of £152 per month, with men the worst for credit card debt as they have to pay £204 each month.

Where someone lives also affects debt levels; Londoners pay the most for everything from mortgage repayments (£626) to utility bills (£212), whilst the Welsh only paid £144 for their utilities.

As the cost of living rises, Mr Brittle urged consumers to take out payment protection insurance (PPI) to ensure that debt is still serviced in the event of injury or unemployment.

David Mond, ClearDebt chief executive, agreed that in principle payment protection insurance could make a difference between living with debt and failing to cope. However, he felt the expense of the product often made it an unattractive purchase for consumers.

He said: “The £27 weekly surplus indicated by this report could be demolished by adding payment protection insurance to every credit card or loan payment – many credit providers see provision of this product as a licence to print a bit more money. PPI premiums vary significantly according to the commission the lender takes. People should shop around.”