New research from mutual life, pensions and investment provider, Royal London, reveals that millions of UK workers have had to turn to second or multiple jobs in the face of soaring living costs, while others are working extremely long hours.
The findings reveal that 5.2 million workers have taken on an additional job to help pay for the increased cost of living and another 10 million plan to, in response to rising costs.
Royal London’s second Cost of Living survey, of 4,000 adults, also shows that many UK employees are already working extremely long hours, with over a quarter (28%) of full time workers working beyond the recommended maximum 48 hours a week. Of those, a fifth (19%) state they are working over 56 hours every week, the equivalent of more than 11 hours a day over a five-day working week.
Overall, only one in ten (13%) UK adults are confident they’ll be able to cope financially with rising costs. And despite working multiple jobs or very long hours, many are still struggling to bring in enough money to pay for increased living costs. Two fifths (42%) of those working the longest hours say they are either unable to or finding it much harder to cover basic costs.
Our findings come at a time when, according to the ONS, pay awards have failed to match soaring inflation and have led to the fastest fall in the real value of pay on record.
Income doesn’t meet outgoings leaving many in a perilous state
Four in five (81%) people in the UK have already made changes to help pay for the rise in prices, but the impact on people’s budgets means many adults are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly a third (31%) of people have to borrow or go overdrawn before they reach pay day. Many have already cut back and reduced their spending, but their outgoings are overtaking their income, resulting in them turning to various types of borrowing, such as credit cards and unplanned overdrafts.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of adults are planning on using their savings to help cover increases in the cost of living, but many admit they have little or no financial cushion to fall back on. Almost a fifth (17%) of people said that they could only fund an unexpected expense of up to £100 from either their income or savings.
Rising costs aren’t just impacting finances, over three fifths (64%) say they’re overwhelmed and feeling more anxious (35%), more stressed (34%), have a lower mood than usual (29%) or they are having trouble sleeping (22%).
Interestingly there’s a notable difference between the sexes, with more women than men affected emotionally by the crisis. While over one in four men (27%) describe themselves as more anxious than usual as a result of increasing costs, this rises to over four in ten for women (42%).
Women are also more likely to report feeling more stressed than usual (40% v 28% of men). And while 35% of people describe themselves as extremely worried about energy bills, far fewer men than women (28% compared to 41%) were in this category. However, women are more likely than men to have made cutbacks as a result of the increased cost of living, and are less likely than men to describe themselves as in financial crisis.
Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London, said: “We know that many households started reining in their spending six months ago as costs first started to rise, but with bills continuing to climb, it could be an incredibly tough winter ahead. While many have resorted to making significant spending adjustments, others, despite working all the hours they can, just can’t keep their heads above water.
“While the Government’s energy price freeze announcement will have brought relief, escalating costs across the board are deeply worrying, with only one in ten adults confident they’ll be able to cope financially.
“It’s not just the impact on people’s finances, rising costs are having a detrimental emotional impact, with over three-fifths saying they are suffering from emotional stress.”
Sara Willcocks, Head of External Affairs at national poverty charity Turn2us, said: “If you are worried about money, we urge you to seek advice as soon as possible. You can do a practical financial health check, which means checking what benefits you are entitled to via the Turn2us Benefits Calculator or, if you have debt concerns, speaking to a specialist debt organisation. You can also find out if you are eligible for any grants towards these costs for energy, furniture and other household essentials via our Grants Search, as well as finding where you may be able to reduce expenditure.”
Royal London’s money tips – ways to help manage your finances
- Don’t bury your head in the sand, ask for help if you’re struggling with your energy bills
Nearly three quarters (72%) of UK adults haven’t approached anyone for help with the cost of living crisis. If you’re finding it hard to pay your energy bills, contact your energy provider to discuss ways you can pay them. They should agree a payment plan with you, which takes into account your current income and what you owe. Contact Citizens Advice if you can’t agree a plan.
- Find out where your money’s going
Start by finding out where your money’s being spent. It sounds obvious, but we may not realise exactly how much we’re spending each month – and what we’re spending it on – until it’s laid out in front of us.
Get your last three bank statements and credit card bills (or check online) and spend some time going through them, highlighting any areas where you think you’re spending money unnecessarily or spending too much. This could be on anything from a top of the range broadband package that you don’t need, to a mobile phone contract where you’re paying for data you don’t use.
Every month money is wasted on unused subscriptions, with gym memberships being the most common example.
- Council Tax
Depending on your circumstances and who is living with you, you may qualify for a council tax discount. For example, you can get a 25% discount if you’re the only adult living in the property (or if the other adult is, for example, a full-time student or has severe dementia). Find out what discounts are offered by your local council at GOV.UK.
People in Northern Ireland pay rates rather than Council Tax and different rules apply.
- Check if you’re entitled to state benefits
Billions of pounds of state benefits go unclaimed each year, and you could be missing out. The national charity Turn2us has a free and confidential benefits calculator on its website (https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/), which can help you work out which means-tested benefits you’re entitled to. It also has a grant search tool (https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/) for information on grants you may be able to apply for.
- Get help with unmanageable debts
If you are struggling to pay for the essentials, you are using one credit card to pay off another, or your debts are causing you worry, then contact a debt advice charity, such as StepChange or National Debtline. They will be able to give you help with your debts, free of charge.
- Food bills
Grocery bills can make up a big proportion of your household spending so it makes sense to look for savings. Plan your meals for the next few days and write down your shopping list – this will help you avoid buying unnecessary items. Consider changing to a cheaper supermarket, or to different brands if you prefer a particular supermarket.