More than one in four people started the New Year feeling uneasy about their finances, a YouGov survey on behalf of StepChange Debt Charity has revealed.
Among people who feel uneasy, two thirds (65 percent) have felt this way for more than a year. A fifth (22 percent) have felt uneasy for more than five years, or have never felt comfortable financially.
Three months after advice, StepChange said four out of five clients report that their wellbeing has improved on at least one measure such as sleeping better or feeling more able to cope.
The polling revealed some variation between genders and age groups.
There is a notable gender gap, with more men (36 percent) than women (28 percent) feeling confident about the state of their finances.
People in the 25-49 age group are the most concerned about their financial situation. Around 26 percent of those aged 25-49 feel “uneasy” financially and are unsure if they will be able to make ends meet, and another eight percent are currently feeling” very uneasy” about their financial situation and know they will have to go without essentials like food or heating this year.
Among the general population, 13 percent of people (equivalent to around 6.5 million people) say that at some point they have sought advice from a debt advice charity. Among those who have been feeling uneasy for more than a year, 24 percent have sought advice – but 73 percent have not.
Among all UK adults who are currently feeling uneasy financially, 37 percent nevertheless say they do not need advice. Around 13 percent say they don’t know where to find advice, another 13 percent are embarrassed about getting advice, eight percent haven’t had time to get advice, and 13 percent don’t want their friends or family to find out.
In addition, 17 percent of UK adults who are feeling uneasy financially say they have an additional problem preventing them from getting advice.
Younger people are more likely than older groups to say they feel embarrassed about getting advice – 13 percent of 18-24s are embarrassed to get advice, dropping to nine percent of 25-49 year olds, five percent of 50-64s, and one of those aged 65 and above.
Most people who have sought advice from a debt advice agency or charity in the past say it helped. Three fifths (59 percent) say it made a positive difference to their financial situation.
StepChange director of external affairs Richard Lane said: “Financial unease is common, affecting more than a quarter of us. If debt is contributing to your own Blue Monday, don’t suffer in silence – get advice. And if someone you know has debt problems, the best thing you can do is encourage them to contact a reputable, free debt advice charity for help, rather than trying to sort out their problems without expert support.”