More than three million families are spending more than they earn on bills and debts, new research suggests.
Around 3.3 million households said they were struggling to pay bills or sinking into debt in April this year, compared with 2.1 million in September 2011, according to Legal and General's latest MoneyMood survey.
Just four out of ten families reported having money left over after paying the bills each month, the lowest level since the Government came to power in May 2010, the survey found.
For families struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month, the average monthly shortfall nationwide was found to be just under £74. This figure is an improvement on the same survey carried out three months ago, when the average shortfall was around £96 a month.
Nationally, the overall monthly shortfall has risen by over £30 million to an estimated £244 million a month, driven up by the higher number of household unable to make ends meet.
The number of homes struggling to meet bills increased 'most strongly' in London, the South East, Wales, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and Scotland.
The West Midlands was the region with the highest shortfall each month at £108, closely followed by London at £100.
Mark Gregory, Legal & General Executive Director Savings, said: "The latest figures from our MoneyMood survey show that around 3.3 million households in the UK say they are spending more than their income on paying bills and debts.
"That's more than a million higher than back in September last year, just as the first quarter of the double dip recession was about to kick in."
The survey, which is ongoing, questioned around 1,000 adults between 23-25 September 2011 and 20-23 April 2012.