Almost a quarter of adults in the South West have less than £100 in savings

A survey carried out by the Money and Pensions Service suggests around a million people have less than £100 saved

One in six adults in the South West have no savings.

Oliver Morgan

That’s what research by the impartial financial organisation, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), has found, as we now have reached the end of their annual ‘Talk Money Week’.

In their survey, they discovered that almost three quarters of a million people across the South West have no savings and another 300,000 have less than £100, with one in six (16%) have nothing put away and another one in 14 (7%) have £100 or less.

This leaves almost a quarter of adults in the region living without a financial safety net to cope with the rising cost of living or unexpected bills, meaning some may have to use credit.

MaPS says although credit is an important tool when used and managed well, it’s crucial that people understand what they can afford and have a plan to pay it off.

Main takeaways across the South West

  • Almost 25% of adults have less than £100 put away in savings
  • Almost 50% of people who use a credit product are anxious about how much money they owe
  • More than 25% of people are anxious about how many credit products they have
  • 4 in 5 people still struggle to talk about money

Among the 74% of people South West who use credit, almost half (47%) are now anxious about how much they owe.

One in four (27%) are worried about the number of different products they have.

As cost of living pressures start to hit home, the MaPS says it’s more important than ever to talk about money before problems set in – but found that 81% of people still avoid discussing their finances.

Asked why, the most common responses were ‘not wanting to be judged’ (24%), ‘fear of burdening others’ (23%) and ‘shame or embarrassment’ (15%).

During Talk Money Week (which was last week), the Money and Pensions Serice encouraged everyone to open up about money, plan for their financial future and take free debt advice as soon as they need it.

Paul Fox, Regional Partnerships Manager for the South West of England at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “The South West has some unique challenges around its economy – especially around leisure, tourism, and retail – that have affected a lot of people, because of the impact of the pandemic, where we weren’t allowed to travel and socialise.

“As a result, quite a lot of people who work, or who have worked, in those sectors over the past couple of years have been impacted quite harshly. This is partly the reason why households across the South West face particular challenges building a resilience against the rising cost of living.

“Without having a savings buffer is very worrying – and an economic shock can appear in many ways. Without the ability to pay that, it could lead to more consequences down the line.

“I understand at the moment, saving can be challenging right now. But a lot of behaviour around money is developed at quite a young age, and in terms of savings, it’s demonstrated ‘small and often’ is a much better way to develop a level of resilience against economic shocks.”

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Chief Executive of the Money and Pensions Service, said: “Over a million people across the South West find it a challenge to save and this leaves them vulnerable when sudden expenditure items arise. When you add in the anxiety that they feel with their credit commitments, the weight of that worry can quickly become overwhelming.

“This Talk Money Week, we want everyone to start the conversation with family or friends and share the burden of any money worries.

“By dealing with the problem head on, people can discover just how helpful free debt advice can be and see the importance of talking to their creditors early. They can also begin to find a way forward, no matter how difficult their situation might feel.

“Free help and guidance on how to do all of this is available via our MoneyHelper service and I’d urge everyone who needs it to get in touch today.”

The organisation says its MoneyHelper service can be people’s first port of call, offering free guidance on topics like everyday money, savings and where to find free debt advice.