Tuesday 11 February 2020 12:01 am

Two in five UK workers living payday to payday, says survey

Two out of five UK employees are living payday to payday, a new survey has found, with women and younger workers more likely to be financially stressed.

The figures, from insurance firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW), suggest that workers feel increasingly financially vulnerable even as unemployment has hit record lows.

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Last week, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimated that about 56 per cent of those living in poverty were in working households in 2018, compared with 39 per cent 20 years ago. Real wages are yet to return to their pre-crisis levels.

WTW, which surveyed 4,000 UK workers, said nearly a third reported financial problems that are negatively affecting their lives.

There was a stark gender divide, with women a third more likely than men to be financially stressed – 48 per cent to 34 per cent.

Younger “millennial” workers were nearly three times more likely to be financially stressed than older “baby boomers”, WTW said.

Richard Sweetman, UK financial wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, said “With wages increasing just one per cent per year on average between 2013 and 2018, and debt increasing at 3.5 per cent per year over the same period, it’s clear that many employees are struggling with budgeting and other essential costs.

“This can put pressure on personal lives, which in turn can affect people’s performance at work, as well as their mental and physical health.”

The WTW financial wellbeing report, part of a global survey, also found that half of those in a relationship said either one or both partners in their household overspends each month.

A third admitted that discussing family spending is “very stressful” and 27 per cent said money concerns are causing strained family relations.

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Sweetman said employers could play a role in aiding their workers manage their personal finances, for example by “providing tools and access to suitable products and services” designed to assist.

Yet the Trade Unions Congress has said the government should tackle in-work poverty and financial stress by raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour and reversing cuts to in-work benefits.