• 33% are worried about the rising cost of living
  • 35% of people looking to take out new credit would use it to pay for general living expenses
  • 80% of people have a credit card, loan or both

Leading global customer experience expert, Webhelp, has unveiled a worrying picture of financial stress among UK adults with its latest consumer survey.

The online survey of 500 adults revealed that 33% were concerned about their financial future because of the rising cost of living. When you break down the data some groups are more concerned than others, with a worrying 47% of people earning less than £10k pa and 41% of people aged 45-54 saying they were worried about their financial future because of the rising cost of living. The least concerned group were the over 65s, with 17% citing the increasing cost of living as a concern.

Overall, just 16% of people said they had no financial worries.

The survey also highlighted how integral a role credit is playing in people’s lives, with 80% surveyed having either credit card(s), loan(s) or both.

More than a quarter of people (26%) said they would be looking to take out more credit in the next six months and more than a third of those (35%) said they needed more credit to pay for general living expenses, such as food and heating. That figure rises to 43% of men, 46% of people earning more than £40k pa, 47% of 35-44 year-olds and almost two thirds (65%) of 18-24 year-olds.

This comes on top of the revelation that 82% of those surveyed had an outstanding balance on their existing credit cards or loans and that only 17% of people had managed to reduce those balances over the last 12 months. 64% of people said they had the same amount, or more, credit outstanding when compared to 12 months ago.

Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority, warned on Oct 16, 2017, that the increasing cost of living is forcing millenials into debt. “We should not think this is reckless borrowing,” Bailey said. “This is directed at essential living costs. It is not credit in the classic sense, it is [about] the affordability of basic living.”

The Webhelp survey results echo research conducted by price comparison website Comparethemarekt.com released on Oct 30, 2017. That survey found the average person in the UK is in debt to the tune of £8,000 (not including mortgages) and that 6 million Brits don’t think they’ll ever be debt free.

Government statistics for England and Wales released last week show applications for individual voluntary arrangements, which help people repay their debts at an affordable amount, had reached their highest level ever.

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and SA, said: “These survey results paint a concerning picture. Credit is an important part of people’s day to day lives and many people are using it to pay for general living costs such as heating and food.

“People are feeling compelled to take on more credit at a time when wage rises are falling behind inflation.  This makes it extremely important to ensure there are no barriers to discussion between borrower and lender, so that if people get into difficulties they feel comfortable addressing it. Being able to offer multi-channel contact options and a data-driven, insight-led customer experience solution is essential.”