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A fifth of UK workers had no rainy-day fund before Covid-19 crisis

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

One in five workers had no emergency savings before the coronavirus lockdown, research shows.

Women were more likely to have a rainy-day fund, with 25% stashing cash aside compared to just 17% of men, the survey by investment platform AJ Bell found.

Those who did have emergency funds had on average six months’ salary saved.

Young people aged 18-34 had an average cash buffer of 4.5 months, while the 55s and over had around 10 months’ worth of salary.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Millions of people in the UK were living on a financial precipice prior to the Covid-19 shutdown, with a fifth of workers admitting they had no emergency cash set aside whatsoever.

“Sadly many will now be facing huge financial distress as a result of losing their job or being forced to take a pay cut.”

However, the findings suggest 61% of people have not seen a drop in income as a result of the current crisis, with over two-thirds saying they are also spending less money.

Selby said: “For those lucky enough to still have a job at the moment who have put off saving in the past, now could be the perfect time to build a rainy day fund.

“As a general rule you should aim to have enough money in an easy access cash account to cover at least three months’ fixed expenses. This should ensure you can pay any unexpected bills, although some will prefer to hold more than this to protect against less common risks (including hits to the wider economy).”

Cash in retirement

He also said those in retirement should consider holding a cash buffer to ensure they aren’t forced to ‘sell on the dip’ in the event of a significant fall in markets.

“While there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to holding cash in retirement, having at least enough to satisfy 12 months’ income withdrawals is a sensible approach.

“However, it’s important to remember that while cash may not fall in value in nominal terms, its spending power will be eaten away by inflation if it is held for too long.”

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