R3 has published its latest UK personal finances statistics which indicated that two-fifths (41%) of British adults are at least fairly worried about their current level of debt, while a similar proportion (40%) say they sometimes or often struggle to make it to payday, says insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.

The figures, from the latest in the long-running R3/ComRes surveys of over 2,000 British adults’ personal debt concerns, give an insight into the current position of the country’s personal finances. Among concerns about credit card debt, worries felt by those renting, and increasing problems with basics like the cost of food, the latest Personal Debt Snapshot found that:

Two-Fifths Have Debt Worries

  • 41% of British adults say they are at least fairly worried about their current level of debt – the same as the last survey in February 2017. This level of concern is slightly up from previous surveys in September 2016 (38%) and June 2016 (37%).
  • As many as 60% of adults aged 35-44 are at least fairly worried about their current level of debt – more than any other age group (lowest: over-65s, 13%).
  • Adults in full-time work (52%) are more likely to be at least fairly worried about their current level of debt than those in part-time work (40%) or those not in work (29%).
  • Renters (55%) are more likely to be at least fairly worried about their current level of debt than home-owners (33%).
  • Credit card debt remains by far the most frequently reported cause for concern among British adults who say they are at least fairly worried about their current level of debt, with half (50%) saying it worries them (similar to the 49% in February 2017).
  • Credit card worries are followed by worries about overdrafts (20% – no change from February 2017), bank loans (18% – up from 16%), mortgage repayments (16% – down from 18%), and loans from friends or family (14% – no change) – again amongst British adults who are worried about their current level of debt.
  • 13% of British adults worried about their current level of debt worry about student debt – but this rises to 65% for those aged 18-24 (up from 31% and 39% in this age group in April and September 2012 – the last surveys before the introduction of the £9,000 cap on tuition fees).

Saving, Borrowing, Missed Payments and Falling Optimism

  • 24% of British adults say they do not have any savings at all at the moment (compared to 22% in both February 2017 and September 2016).
  • 40% of renters say they do not have any savings at all at the moment (up from 37% in February 2017), compared to 16% of homeowners (up from 14% in February 2017).
  • 22% of British adults think their personal financial situation will improve in the next six months (down from 25% in February 2017) – which is still slightly higher than the 19%who think their personal finance situation will get worse in the next six months (no change from February 2017).
  • Younger British adults are most optimistic about their personal finances (35% of 25-34 year olds and 33% of 18-24 year olds think their personal finances will improve in the next six months).
  • 35-44 year olds and 55-64 year olds are the most pessimistic about their future finances (25% and 24% respectively think their finances will worsen).
  • 8% of British adults are only paying the interest off on their credit card and not reducing the original debt itself (similar to the 7% in February 2017).
  • 8% of British adults have borrowed £100 or more from friends or family in the last month (no change from February 2017).
  • 4% of British adults have missed a debt repayment deadline in the past month (no change from February 2017).

Struggles to Payday – Cost of Food Problems Increasing

  • 40% of British adults say they often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday, unchanged from February 2017. Previous waves found that:
Survey % of British adults who say they often or sometimes struggle to payday
September 2016 38%
June 2016 39%
January 2016 36%
August 2015 38%
March 2015 41%
November 2014 40%
July 2014 39%
  • Struggles to payday are most common in Wales (53%), followed by London (48%) and Scotland (42%).
  • The most common cause for struggling to payday is the cost of food (cited by 56% of those who often or sometimes struggle to make it to payday), followed by: household energy costs (40%); fuel or transport costs (33%); credit card repayments (31%); spending on going out or non-essentials (26%); and paying for rent (23%) – by contrast, mortgage repayments are cited by 14% of British adults).
  • The proportion of British adults who say they struggle because of the cost of food has risen from 51% in June 2016 while those who cite making credit card repayments has risen from 23% in June 2016.
  • 42% of British adults aged 18-24 who often or sometimes struggle to payday cited spending on non-essentials or going out as a reason for their struggle – the most common factor in this age group and the highest proportion of any age group.
  • British adults aged 18-24 were also the most likely to say they struggle to payday because of rent payments (37%).
  • Rent payments are the 3rd most commonly cited reason for struggling to payday in London (36%) compared to 6th for Britain as a whole (23%).