1.5m borrow cash to pay rent or mortgage
The Debt Advisory Centre said increasing levels of poverty were forcing people to borrow money to meet essential payments.
It found 5% of people needed to take out one loan to pay another, something which can cause spiralling debt.
Additionally six million people had to borrow money to cover their grocery bills and 9% of people used credit to pay a utility bill, such as gas, electricity or water.
People in London and Northern Ireland were the areas where people were more likely to borrow money to pay for everyday goods, followed by Wales.
Ian Williams, spokesman for Debt Advisory Centre, said: “A worrying number of people are being forced to borrow money to keep a roof above their head, to stay warm and to feed themselves and their families.
“Often we think that people use credit to pay for treats they don’t need. This research indicates that many people are relying on credit just to get by.
“We would urge anyone who is struggling to pay essential bills or worrying about their debts to seek help and advice from a credible source such as a regulated debt advice service or the Citizens Advice Bureau.”