(Bloomberg) -- A fifth of British households are struggling to afford their water bills, according to regulator Ofwat, with young people particularly vulnerable to the cost of living crisis.

Ofwat’s latest report, conducted in October, found that the proportion of customers having difficulty paying for water rose to 20%, up from 15% in May.

Three-quarters of Britons aged 18-34 were finding it hard to pay household bills at least “sometimes,” it added.

“We know from previous research that many customers are struggling with utility bills,” said Claire Forbes, senior director of corporate communications at Ofwat. “As today’s report underlines, this financial strain is persisting and, for many, worsening.”

Overall, the number of households struggling to pay their bills, from energy to grocery costs, has more than doubled over the period.

The numbers come as UK water companies face scrutiny over sewage discharges into rivers and millions of pounds paid in executive bonuses.

Read More: Surfers Accuse UK Water Firms of Illegally Dumping Sewage

Half the survey’s respondents said they would be “concerned” if their household costs rose by just £25. Gas, electricity and travel costs are at the front of families’ minds.

Most of those struggling with their water bills are now forced to choose between expenses -- for example, paying for their water instead of their broadband, or paying rent instead of their phone bill, because they can no longer afford all their living costs, the report showed.

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