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One in four have struggled with finances in past two years

Written by: Emma Lunn
Unforeseen life events have plunged more than 15 million Brits into financial insecurity in the past two years, according to Turn2us.

The poverty charity found that women, disabled people, certain minoritised ethnic groups and young people, are the worst affected by the financial impact of life events, such as bereavement, illness, a relationship breakdown, or unemployment.

Turn2us found that 64% of women have experienced financial insecurity following a life event, compared to just over half (55%) of men.

White Gypsy or Irish Travellers (84%) and White Irish (80%) respondents were most likely to report that at least one life event left them worse off. Similarly high rates were found among respondents who were White and Black African Mixed (76%); Black Caribbean (71%); any other respondents of mixed descent (71%).

Just over seven in 10 (72%) disabled people suffered a life event in the past two years that contributed to them being financially worse off. This compares to 56% of respondents with no disabilities.

People under the age of 35 are the most likely to suffer a life event that left them financially worse off. Three quarters (75%) of people in the UK aged 25 to 34 had experienced at least one life event in the past two years which left them financially worse off. In contrast, respondents aged 55 and older were the age group least likely to report that at least one life event had caused them to be financially worse off (46%).

The publication of the charity’s report comes just weeks after the Covid-19 furlough scheme ended, and the £20 Universal Credit uplift was cut. Its findings show how life events can plunge people into financial insecurity, particularly those who are already struggling to make ends meet, and that there are barriers to people accessing the support they need.

Thomas Lawson, Turn2us chief executive, said: “Our research tells us that the UK has a big problem with financial insecurity that effectively puts 15 million people on a cliff edge. The report clearly shows that failure to reach people at the point of crisis means many find themselves trapped in a cycle of repaying high interest on borrowed money, plunging them into debt.

“In the absence of long-term solutions that prevent people being plunged into financial insecurity, we urge the government to mandate Local Welfare Assistance schemes, with an additional £250m of ringfenced funding each year. This will enable councils to step in and help prevent families from having to make difficult choices between putting food on the table and paying their bills, because of life events that are beyond their control.”

The survey findings also suggest that shame and stigma are a barrier to seeking support from local councils (42%) and charities (27%) while only half of people would feel comfortable asking for financial support from the government.

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