personal finance

Millions of low income families feel 'out of control' when it comes to financial health

Households earning a pre-tax annual income of less than £16,500 wish they had more control over their monthly bills, energy use, and social schedule

Nearly half of low income families wish they were more in control of their monthly bills
Nearly half of low income families wish they were more in control of their monthly bills

Millions of low-income families feel “out of control” when it comes to their day-to-day financial health, a study has found.

A poll of 1,000 adults, with a pre-tax annual household income of less than £16,500, feel powerless when it comes to managing their income and debt.

A third of those (32%) wish they had more of a grip on their energy use, while others long for more control on their monthly bills (46%) and their social schedule (18%).

A combination of the global pandemic, cost of living crisis, and high energy prices, has left half feeling they don’t have as much control over their lives as they did two years ago.

As many as two-thirds put this down to the rising energy costs, while six in ten blame it on high food prices.

A third of families find a smart energy meter is a helpful piece of tech


Leon Neal/Getty Images)

But technology plays a big role when it comes to feeling a little bit more in control, according to two-thirds of those surveyed – with banking apps (53%) named as the top tech that families rely on.

Smart meters were also a popular piece of tech for 32%, while others rely on instant messaging chats (30%), online to do lists (29%), and health tracking devices (18%) to keep on top of things.

And more than a quarter (28%) said that, hypothetically, having no access to technology would make them feel less in control of their lives.

A spokesman from Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the survey, said: “It is a very difficult time for many households right now, but there are small steps we can all take to shore up our sense of control.

“Smart meters can be a really helpful tool for providing visibility on energy use, and avoiding the uncertainties of estimated bills.

“They are available at no additional cost and the installation process is straightforward, usually taking an average of just two hours.”

The study also found 59% turn to a close-knit circle of friends for help and support when times get tough.

And people in the low-income households polled spend an average of 19 minutes chatting to their loved ones online each day.

These conversations give a boost of confidence to almost half (48%), as they feel more in control of their lives after talking to friends and family.

But 28% have had to secure debt support to deal with the rising costs of living – although six in ten feel confused with financial advice.

But more than two-thirds feel like saving money is impossible, due to the rising cost of essentials


Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images)

Top worries in the low-income community include having substantial savings (40%), being able to get on the property ladder (27%), and not being able to afford hobbies (25%).

However, more than two-thirds (68%) feel it’s impossible to save money due to the increasing costs of everyday items, according to the OnePoll study.

Psychotherapist Zoe Aston, said: “We’re in some really difficult times right now. Energy prices are still rising, and there is very little that any of us feel able to do about it.

“However, there are some small things, such as banking apps and smart meters, that can help you feel a little less vulnerable around your finances right now.

“While technology can’t change anyone’s ability to pay their bills, there are certain tools and devices that can help us to make more informed decisions about our finances or energy use.

“Paying attention to the reality of what is happening and making informed decisions, from a balanced place, based on accurate information, means we can approach this difficult time in as healthy a way as possible to each individual.”

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