Five million working people struggle with money worries

As the Chancellor prepares to deliver his first Budget, new research from Which? has found that nearly five million working people in the UK are worried about their financial situation.

Overall, 28% of all UK households said they were experiencing some form of financial distress, be it relying more on overdrafts and loans or struggling to pay bills. When Which? looked at working households that feel negatively about their financial situation, this rose to six in 10 (61%).

The most common forms of financial distress for working and struggling households were a reliance on more traditional types of borrowing, with 20% of people having taken a loan or credit card, borrowed money from friends and family or used authorised overdrafts as well as cutting back, and more severe measures with one in five (19%) people defaulting on a loan, bill, mortgage payment or rent.

Nearly two fifths (38%) of households that were working and struggling thought their financial situation would get worse in the next year, as worries about levels of household debt, fuel prices, housing costs, the prices of food and levels of savings were likely to be playing on their mind. The top worries for working and struggling households were:

  • Level of my household debt (80%)
  • Fuel prices (79%)
  • Housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments,(79%)
  • Food prices (76%)
  • Level of my household savings and investments (76%)

Which? wants the Government to ensure that it considers the issues that these consumers face in the Budget and its forthcoming markets green paper. It must make sure that critical markets, such as financial services, energy, telecoms and transport work better for consumers.

Vickie Sheriff, Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications, said:

“It’s alarming to see how millions of working households in the UK are struggling financially. Many are worried about paying their rent, mortgages, everyday household bills and loans. What’s worse, is that one in five of these households are relying on credit cards, overdrafts and the goodwill of their friends and family to help them get by.

“At a time when people are feeling the pinch, we are urging the Government to use its upcoming Budget to consider how it can deliver measures that will help those families that are working and struggling with money worries.”


Notes to editors

  1. Consumer Insight Tracker: The Which? Consumer Insight Tracker is a nationally representative online poll of around 2,000 households conducted every two months. Results are routinely published on the first Tuesday of the following month at The latest results are for January 2017.
  2. Research: Which? has identified a working and struggling group. This group was composed of people who were in work, either part time (8-29 hours per week) or full time (30+ hours per week) who said that the financial circumstances of their household were either poor or very poor. Sample size for the ‘Working and Struggling’ group was 194 unweighted cases.
  3. The working and struggling group equates to 4.6 million working people or 2.4 million households, which is one in 10 (9%) UK households.
  4. The underlying research is published in this Insight article –

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