New research published by Citizens Advice in Devon has found that 80,000 people living in the area have more money going out than coming in every month.

The worrying trend of negative budgets - where people’s expenditure on basic bills like energy, housing and food exceeds their income - is a growing problem in the county.

As falling living standards continue to push people’s finances to the brink, the new analysis from Citizens Advice Devon found energy costs and housing are the key costs swallowing up people’s income, pushing many into the red.

This means more and more people in this situation are likely to fall further into a spiral of debt.

Citizens Advice Devon’s Chair, Edwina Bradshaw, said:

“What was once a rarity for Citizens Advice services in Devon- seeing people come to us in a negative budget - has sadly now become the new normal for our advisers.

“People are living on empty, cutting back their spending to unsafe levels just to get by. This cannot continue.

“With living standards falling, we need politicians from all sides in Devon to get serious about addressing the issue head on.”

With a general election looming, Citizens Advice Devon’s research also found more than half of voters in all Devon, Plymouth and Torbay constituencies said the cost of living, or living standards, was one of the most important issues in determining how they will vote while more than three-quarters said that negative budgets are an important issue.

In South Devon the negative budget rate is 6.45 per cent and the number of people in negative budget is 5,850 whilst the figures for South West Devon were 4.32 per cent and 4,190.

The percentage which said the cost of living or living standards was one of the most of the most important issues in determining how they will vote is 54.39 per cent in South Devon with the percentage who said that negative budgets are an important issue is 78.51 per cent and in South West Devon the figures are 54.70 per cent and 81.02 per cent.