New research finds inflation to be a key worry for people across the UK despite 48% of those surveyed not knowing what the current rate is.
The Toluna Financial Services Sentiment Indicator (FSSI) is a bi-annual study exploring key issues related to the UK population’s personal and household finances, attitudes towards financial institutions in the UK and behaviours in relation to personal finances. The latest research surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,081 members of the UK public.
Financial responsibility and resiliency
After a tough 18 months, people are starting to feel more confident about their personal finances. With limitations on where we can go and how we can spend our money, there’s been greater opportunities to save money and spend less. The pandemic has highlighted the need to become more financially secure:
- One in three (33%) said that, overall, their household financial situation has improved over the last 12 months.
- 25% of respondents said their household savings have actually increased in the last 12 months. When asked if they are looking to spend this money on a big-ticket item, such as a car, house, dream holiday or wedding etc. over the next year, over half (52%) said that they are not planning to do this.
- More importantly, 1 in 4 (24%) of those who say their financial situation worsened in the last 12 months feel optimistic about the situation improving in the next 12 months.
- When asked about their top 5 current financial worries, 1 in 4 (23%) mentioned not saving enough or not having enough savings for an emergency/rainy day.
- 23% also said that they’re worried about not saving enough or not having sufficient savings for retirement.
- Almost two fifths (38%) claim that they would have to borrow from friends and family as their savings would only last one month or less.
Worries about the economy – inflation a key worry
While those surveyed said they feel more positive about their current and near-future financial situation, the rising cost of living remains a key concern:
- 34% of respondents are most worried about the rising cost of household bills.
- A quarter (25%) cited increasing inflation as a key worry and this is clearly a ‘top of mind’ issue for people and adds to the growing pressure on the Bank of England to act.
Understandably, those who are more likely to say that they are worried about their finances are single parents with children under the age of 18 (91%), those in poor health (93%) and those who have lost a job/become redundant (97%).
But the majority of the UK public don’t completely understand inflation and are not aware of exact inflation figures
Although many people are feeling the effects of increasing costs on household expenditure, the majority of the public are not aware of exact inflation figures. With over a decade of low inflation and a low interest environment, inflation has perhaps been a forgotten word in the UK.
- When asked if they knew the current rate of inflation, almost half of respondents said they didn’t know (48%).
- Less than 1 in 20 knew the current rate of inflation.
- When asked what is the Bank of England’s target for inflation that the UK Government has set, two-thirds (62%) were unable to answer and again most answered with an incorrect figure.
- People also don’t understand the difference between the different measures of inflation such as CPI, CPIH and RPI, with only 14% saying they are clear on what each includes.
Michael Worledge, Head of Financial Services Research at Toluna, said:
“While the pandemic has taught us some harsh financial lessons, especially around security and resilience, it also shows where we are still rather quite naïve when looking at the bigger picture from an economy point of view. It is clear that we are all going to be impacted by inflation. The commentary by the Bank of England suggests that the rise in inflation may well be a temporary or transitional change as the economies around the world emerge from an extraordinary year. There is no doubt however, especially as some estimates suggest that the rate of inflation could hit 4% by the end of the year, there is increasing pressure on the central bank to act and tame the rate of inflation. There is also pressure on the Chancellor to balance the books to pay for the biggest peace time spending that we have seen in the UK. How this influences the Government policy making is an area many in the UK are feeling both curious and anxious about.”