The Coronavirus has been eye opening in all aspects of our lives and has made many of us take a close look out our personal situations including how we stand financially when the going gets tough. Our latest research with YouGov has highlighted the nation's precarious financial position as we entered the uncharted territory that is this global pandemic.
We found that a fifth (21%) of British adults have no immediately accessible savings; and just under a fifth (18%) only have enough to cover essential outgoings, like mortgage and rent payments, utility bills and food, for two months or less if they had no income coming in.
The research, conducted earlier this month among 2000 British adults, shows that a huge number of households were already struggling financially and may need even more help to survive the additional economic difficulties stemming from COVID-19. Our other key findings were:
- Over the last two years, of those that have experienced financial difficulties, 12% have been behind on paying essential bills and 10% have missed a debt or loan repayment.
- In the last twelve months, over two fifths (44%) have run out of money before their next pay day at least once and over a third (34%) have relied on short-term credit to pay for something.
- Three fifths (60%) of households have some form of debt. Credit card (32%) and mortgage debt (29%) are most common but many also have unsecured loans (20%), authorised overdrafts (14%) and car loans (9%)2.
- Only half (51%) of people are keeping up with their financial commitments without any difficulties.
- Almost a third (30%) are rarely or never able to put aside any of their income into savings.
Our research makes it clear that many households were already in a fragile financial position and the additional economic uncertainty created by Covid-19 may push people into further difficulties. The ongoing response by the Government and banks to help vulnerable customers with mortgage payment holidays and extra protection for credit card users is to be welcomed, but more may need to be done to support those in financial distress as the crisis continues and as we come out the other side.
If you are struggling to pay essential bills, or with making debt repayments, contact your provider as soon as possible to discuss delaying or reducing payments. Prioritise paying off debt with the highest interest rates first and if you do need to take on more short-term credit opt for the form with the lowest paying interest. Look at your outgoings to see if there’s any services you can stop or reduce given the current circumstances. As always, if you are concerned, we’d recommend contacting the Money Advice Service for guidance.
These findings were from OpenMoney’s annual research into the UK financial advice gap and will form part of a larger report later this year. The 2019 report, The UK Advice Gap: Are consumer needs for advice and guidance being met? can be downloaded here.