Figures released this week from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that more than one in three people in Britain have no savings to cope with unexpected emergencies.
The new Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O'Grady commented: "People have seen their living standards put under intense pressure over the last few years as bills have soared and real wages have fallen."
She continued: "This large rise in the number of people unable to afford unexpected emergencies like a faulty boiler or a leaky washing machine highlights the day-to-day challenges many hard-pressed families are facing."
"These figures should act as an urgent wake-up call to the government. The UK now has a higher percentage of people at risk of poverty than most countries in Western Europe," said Ms O'Grady.
"Instead of helping families to make ends meet, the government has just rubber-stamped plans which will put an even greater squeeze on family finances by capping rises in vital benefits and tax credits from this April," said the TUC chief.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the government's independently-run statistics agency.