Household finances at lowest point since 2011

Ryan Fowler

April 20, 2020

uk finance

Household finances are at the weakest point since November 2011, according to IHS Markit’s UK household finance index.

The index, which measures households’ overall perceptions of financial wellbeing, dropped to 34.9 (down from 42.5) in April as it saw its largest monthly decline since it was started in 2009.

Job security perceptions have also hit a record low whilst incomes from employment fell sharply.

Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said: “The UK Household Finance Index is already showing wide-reaching financial consequences of the lockdown measures implemented in late March.

“The latest data were compiled during the first week of April and therefore give an early indication of the severe impact on household finances from the public health emergency.

“Unsurprisingly, financial conditions deteriorated sharply when compared to the previous month and at a rate not seen since
November 2011.

“This was to be expected as workers have been placed on furlough and applications for universal credit have risen
substantially in recent weeks. Even with the government’s scheme to backstop earnings, those in receipt of this will still be worse off as support has been pledged for 80% of their full income.

“Around one in three UK households reported a decline in income from employment during April, which was by far the largest number since the survey began in 2009.

“Nevertheless, we can still draw a small degree of positivity from the latest results, with overall measures of cash available to spend and household debt proving much more stable than workplace incomes.

“There was a slight pick-up in unsecured lending needs, while in some cases savings were depleted to meet immediate financing needs.

“Limiting the adverse impact on UK household balance sheets will be crucial in the coming months so that when economic activity does recover, consumers are not stuck repaying debts and instead are able to boost discretionary spending to aid a strong recovery.”

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