Households concerned over impact of EU vote on finances


Nearly half of households are concerned about the impact that potentially leaving the EU could have on their finances, a report has found.

Research from savings and Isa provider Scottish Friendly found that 45% of households are concerned about how a vote to leave the EU might affect the cash in their family's pockets.

Nearly one in five (19%) of those surveyed said they are "very worried" about the outcome of the EU referendum on June 23, according to the report - which was also compiled by think-tank the Social Market Foundation.

Fears over the possibility of rising prices, job losses or changes in labour market protections and the impact on the stock market were common concerns, the research found.

Young people were found to be particularly anxious about how leaving the EU might affect their household's finances, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of 18 to 24-year-olds expressing concern, compared to just 36% of over-55s.

The report found that households generally have seen a small improvement in the amount of monthly disposable income they have left over after paying for essentials including housing costs, households bills, groceries and transport.

On average, UK households had £1,000 in monthly disposable income in the second quarter of this year, up from £905 in the previous quarter.

Just under half (49%) of households said they are able to regularly save or invest some cash each month.

But some age groups reported being more squeezed than others. On average, those who are retired and are likely to have paid off their mortgage reported having £1,585 in disposable income every month, compared with an average of £825 for 35 to 44-year-olds and £831 for 25 to 34-year-olds, the research found.

After monthly housing costs and other essentials, 18 to 24-year-olds said they have just £617 on average left over.

Despite the recent general improvements to households' financial situations, the report found that only around one third (34%) of households expect to be better off financially in 12 months' time, while nearly a quarter (24%) expect to be worse off.

Nearly half (48%) of households worry about how they would cope with a big unexpected bill, such as covering the cost of a washing machine or car that had broken down.  

Calum Bennie, a savings expert at Scottish Friendly, said: "The introduction of the National Living Wage is clearly a positive step and that, combined with low inflation and moderate private sector wage growth has helped certain sections of society to have more money in their pockets at the end of the month.

"However, our study continues to suggest that people are feeling financially fragile.

"Worries persist about preparedness for unexpected bills and debt. Not enough households are in a position to save at the end of the month and that is a concern."

He continued: "Uncertainty caused by the forthcoming EU referendum is also leaving many UK families feeling concerned."

Scottish Friendly said it is remaining neutral during the EU referendum campaign.

The Social Market Foundation said it does not have a corporate position on whether or not the country should remain part of the EU, but it has acknowledged that previous research it has compiled on the issue may be more useful to supporting arguments from the Remain side than Leave campaigners. 

Some 2,000 people were surveyed for the report.