Almost one in three Leeds households don't expect to save any money over the next 12 months, according to a new survey from financial services provider Leeds Credit Union.
Following the accumulated impact of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis, and with the impact to UK households of the Russian invasion of Ukraine still unclear, Leeds Credit Union's (LCU) consumer confidence survey was distributed to its members to ascertain their financial situation and find out how they expected to fare over the next financial year.
The results laid bare the financial pressures facing households in Leeds, Wakefield, Harrogate and Craven. Of the 2,111 respondents, 28% said they didn't expect to save any money between now and April 2023, with 43% expecting to save less than they had over the previous 12 months.
Confirming what economic experts had feared, 41% of respondents said their financial situation had worsened over the last 12 months, with 13% describing their situation as being 'much worse'.
In a further blow to consumer confidence, the survey also revealed that LCU's members have a pessimistic outlook about their finances over the coming year, with almost half (47%) expecting the economic situation of their household to worsen and 15% concerned it will get 'much worse'. Fewer than one in three (27%) expect their circumstances to improve.
The increasing cost of energy bills emerged as most people's primary financial concern, with a staggering 89% of respondents worried about the impact it will have on their household budget. 51% reported concerns about rising food prices and 49% about fuel prices. Almost one in four - 22% - were worried about their ability to pay their rent or mortgage.
83% of respondents believe now is not a good time to make a major purchase (defined as a new car, sofa or home entertainment system), indicating a significant number of people plan to keep their wallets in their pockets for the foreseeable future in yet more bad news for the UK economy.
Stephen Porter, Head of Member Experience at LCU, said: "While the results aren't surprising given the ongoing cost of living crisis, they are deeply worrying. The fact that 28% of respondents said they don't expect to save a single penny over the next 12 months is heartbreaking. As a credit union, we know only too well the impact that money worries and a lack of financial resilience can have on people and their mental health. Frankly, it is unconscionable that so many people find themselves in this position in the UK in 2022.
"The fact that many ordinary households are simply planning to stop spending in order to mitigate skyrocketing prices is a huge cause for concern too as it is likely to see any economic growth struggle to gain momentum.
"However, when it comes to financial hardship, our message to local communities is simple: we are here to help. The survey also revealed that our members rate our service as 4.5 / 5, which is a clear indication of the positive impact credit unions have had on people's finances and all-round wellbeing during some of the toughest financial circumstances in recent memory.
"95% of our members would also recommend our products and services to their friends and family, so we would urge anybody facing financial hardship to use this as evidence that seeking out their local credit union is an effective and affordable way to stabilise their finances and ensure they don't have to choose between heating and eating."
Asked what being a member meant to them, respondents to LCU's survey highlighted the support and advice offered by the organisation, along with the ability to save via payroll deductions and the range of savings accounts on offer. One simply said it meant "everything", highlighting the vital support that credit unions continue to offer society's most financially vulnerable.
Leeds City Credit Union is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN 213369).
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