ONS data released today reveals a big rise in fiscal anxiety – expert gives financial tips

Financial security and personal stress are often linked together for obvious reasons. If a person is worried about their monetary position that stress is likely to impact their mental health. Coronavirus has now elevated all of this to worrying levels.


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Today, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released new findings on personal and economic well-being in the UK.

The timing is prudent as the period covered is from October 2019 to April 2020, a timeframe where it is clear to see the coronavirus impact.

Many people may not be surprised to learn that there was an increase in financial anxiety but the rates in increases may catch some by surprise with how exponential they are.

For instance, the research revealed that between March 20 and March 30, almost half (49.6 percent) of people in Great Britain reported “high anxiety, this was sharply elevated compared with the end of 2019 (21 percent), and equates to over 25 million people according to the ONS.

The data also revealed that people’s most common concerns related to their well-being, their work, and their finances.

Those who think they will not be able to save money in the next year reported anxiety 33 percent higher on average compared with those who think they will.

On a particularly negative note, it was revealed that renters and the self-employed, two groups who are relatively less secure than most, were more likely to have had their household finances and their jobs negatively impacted due to coronavirus.

These findings have already caught the attention of financial advisory firms.

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Jane Goodland, a Director for Quilter, commented on the worrying statistics: “It is unsurprising that the UK population are feeling more anxious.

“We are in unprecedented times with huge uncertainty over everything including when we can spend time with friends and family, job security and when and how school will resume.

“The ONS figures show the extent of this as about one in two people aged over 16 reported a ‘high’ level of anxiety.

“Around 5.3 million people are concerned about their household finances and 6.2 million are concerned about their work.

“These are alarming figures showing people are considerably more anxious.”

While some people may feel a sense of hopelessness about the situation, Jane reveals that now is the time to take action to combat it: “We know mental health is heavily linked to the state of one’s finances.

“Living in financial stress can lead to mental health issues problems and those with mental health issues often find it difficult to cope with their finances.

“There is a viscous circle that only worsens as time goes by.

“So if you already have concerns it’s important to tackle it now.”

Thankfully, she went on to provide some useful tips for people to take practical steps to reduce their concerns.


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These tips run the gambit from general advice, small solutions and warning signs:

Review, review, review

“If your circumstances have changed then you need to have a look at your incomings and outgoings. “Is there anything you can reduce in this period? Bills that can go down? Purchases that can be limited?”

Make small changes

“While you may feel it’s impossible to save, putting just a few quid aside each month can be helpful not only financially, but mentally.

“Challenge yourself to find a way to save some, even if it’s just a fiver.

“Sometimes it’s the mental barrier to saving rather than the practical one”

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Speak up

“If you are struggling with your finances there is no reason you should bear the burden alone, there are many who are in the same position as you.

“If you are not in charge of the household finances then ask the person who is.

“This needs to be an open and honest conversation.”

Lean on the government

“Ensure you are making as much use as you can of the government’s extensive package of reforms to get the population through the period.”

Talk to an expert

“There are many government backed services such as the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service, which are free to use, as well as charities like StepChange or Citizens Advice.

“For some people getting a third party professional opinion might be the best option and so seek out professional financial advice.

“Advisers are well equipped to help you make a long term plan.”

Avoid get rich quick schemes

“If something sounds too good to be true than it probably is.

“Scammers thrive in times of uncertainty and vulnerability and so be extremely cautious of anyone asking for your financial details.”

Look after your general wellbeing

“Anything you can do to ease your mind and boost your wellbeing in this time is vital, be that exercise, meditation, or talking to loved ones.”

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