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One in 20 employees ‘could not cover bills for a week if they lost their income’

·4-min read

One in 20 (5%) employees say they would not be able to cover their living costs for one week if they lost their main source of income, according to a report.

One in six (15%) would not be able to last a month, the research from the Building Societies Association (BSA) found.

More than six in 10 (61%) adults who are employed said they find their bills and credit commitments a burden.

More than one in four (27%) employees generally said that money worries have affected their ability to do their job – rising to 55% of those who would not be able to cover their living expenses for a month if they lost their income and 63% of those who find bills and credit commitments a heavy burden.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of workers feel employers should care about their financial wellbeing, but only just under a quarter (24%) think their employer actually does.

This financial wellbeing gap is particularly likely to be significant for employees working in larger organisations; those in media, marketing, PR sales and education; younger employees; and those with low financial resilience.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed for the BSA’s report – private sector employees ranked as middle managers or below, working in businesses with two or more employees.

The BSA acknowledged that people will not be able to save any money in the coming months amid the cost-of-living squeeze.

But it said that introducing a workplace savings scheme for those who are in work, and do feel able to save a little each month, could be one way for employers to help staff improve their longer-term financial wellbeing.

Such schemes could allow participating employees to have a set amount taken from their monthly wages after tax, to be placed in cash savings, which could be used for an emergency or a treat.

Half of employees (50%) surveyed who are not currently offered workplace savings would be interested in joining, the BSA found.

Of those whose money worries have affected their work, six in 10 (60%) would be interested in a workplace savings scheme if this was offered to them.

For one in eight (13%) people interested in taking part in a workplace savings scheme, it would be their first formal cash savings.

Several building societies are actively exploring how they can help in this area, the BSA said, with some credit unions and building societies already offering this type of account.

Financial Inclusion Minister Guy Opperman said: “Workplace savings can play an important role in helping people to build their future financial resilience.

“It’s good to see that many credit unions and some building societies have schemes in place for employers to support people to save direct from their salary, but we now need to grow the number of providers and encourage employers to take advantage of these services to support their staff.”

Sarah Porretta, propositions, insights and external engagement executive director, Money and Pensions Service, welcomed the BSA’s work “to raise the profile of workplace savings, which could provide financial resilience and security to many people in these uncertain times”.

Andrew Gall, head of savings at the BSA, said: “As food, energy and other prices continue to rise, it is no wonder that so many are now finding their finances stretched and are struggling with their day-to-day living costs.

“Although now won’t be the right time for many to start saving, introducing a workplace savings scheme could provide an opportunity for some to start building a savings buffer, in a simple and flexible way.

“Having a scheme in place will also help other employees who can join the scheme and start regular savings when their own personal situation allows, helping them to increase their resilience for unexpected financial shocks in the longer term.

“For those who currently have outstanding debts such as personal loans or credit cards, we’d suggest that, if they can put a little extra aside each month, they use it to reduce these before putting into savings account, as interest will be charged on the outstanding amounts.”

The Government recently announced a string of measures to support households during the cost-of-living crisis, including a £400 payment to help households generally with their energy bills, plus targeted support for people on benefits, pensioners and people with disabilities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a package of housing measures this week.

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