press release

Middle Britain’s mounting debt hits confidence and ability to save

  • New research reveals the financial reality of being part of ‘Middle Britain’
  • Six in ten (59%) families fall short of financial resilience recommendations
  • Just one in 20 have some form of financial protection against loss of income

Mounting debt is causing six in ten (59%) ‘Middle Britain’ families to fall short of the recommended level of savings to be financially resilient – leaving them at risk of being hit hard if they were to lose their income, according to new research by leading insurer, LV=.

In the final instalment of its ‘Income Roulette’ report – a study [1] of debt, savings and protection among 9,000 people – LV= reveals the financial reality of being part of the ‘squeezed middle’. While many might expect this group to be financially secure, with a comfortable household income, the research found this is not the case. Three quarters (75%) of ‘Middle Britain’ - people who are married or in civil partnerships, have one or two children and an average gross household income (£35,000) – struggle to save because of outgoing bills. This is much higher than the national average of 56%.

The situation is leaving many in Middle Britain lacking financial confidence, with 32% not confident they could handle a financial crisis, and 44% worried they’ll never be able to save for a rainy day. Meanwhile, over a third (36%) say they are worse off now than they were a year ago.

People in this group are significantly more likely than the national average to have mortgage commitments (63% vs 27%), with the same trend applying to credit card debt (41% vs 26%) and unsecured personal loans (20% vs 9%). They are also much more likely to say that unexpected monthly costs, such as their children, prevent them from saving (54% vs 19%).

These factors mean around three in five (59%) people in Middle Britain fall short of the Money Helper’s recommendation to have three months’ worth of outgoings in the bank in order to cope with a financial shock, and therefore be financially resilient. This is compared to the national average of 37%.

The ‘Income Roulette’ research also shows just 5% of Middle Britain families have income protection insurance, leaving them financially vulnerable if they were unable to work because of accident, sickness or disability. This is particularly concerning considering the sheer amount of people who fall under this definition. The Money Helper [2] identifies over 12 million people as being in the ‘Squeezed’ group - those who have reasonable income and some savings, but aren’t able to cope with unexpected financial shocks as they don’t have enough in savings and tend to rely on credit.

Justin Harper, Head of Protection Policy at LV=, said: “In theory, you’d assume families on average earnings or above would feel relatively financially secure, but our research reveals this is far from the truth. At a time when wage increases are failing to keep up with price increases, household incomes are stretched more than ever before, and families – with responsibilities like mortgage payments and dependants – are struggling to make ends meet.

“It shouldn’t be that way. Income protection products can provide a valuable financial safety net but too few of us have it. We’re calling on the Government to help households better cope with financial shocks such as a loss of income, by tasking the new Single Financial Guidance Body with improving the UK’s financial resilience across the board, and in particular among working families. With a typical 40 year old couple facing a three in five chance of being unable to work for two months or more [3], this issue could be more real than people think.”

To help consumers understand their chances of being out of work or suffering a serious illness, LV= has created a handy online tool.


Notes to editors: 

[1] Methodology for research: YouGov, on behalf of LV=, conducted online interviews with 9,495 UK adults between 5th and 10th July 2017.

[2] The 2016 Money Helper research

[3] LV= calculations show a 40 year-old couple – male and, female, non-smokers who want to retire at 65 have a three in five (59%) chance of not being able to work for two months or more in their working lives.

About LV=

LV= employs over 6,000 people and serves over 5.8 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We are currently the UK's number one brand for Insurance and Investments, according to the 2015 YouGov Brand Index Buzz Rankings.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

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