One in five people has no savings to fall back on despite signs that the economy is improving, a report has warned.
Some 20% of people surveyed for Scottish Widows' Savings Report have no safety net for a "rainy day", marking the highest proportion seen since 2009 - the year the Bank of England slashed the base rate to its current ultra-low levels.
The findings equate to about nine million people across the UK having no money put aside as a nest egg, according to the eighth annual survey of more than 5,000 people.
In 2011, just 7% of people surveyed had nothing saved, but by last year this proportion had risen to 19%, as households continued to feel the squeeze from high living costs and sluggish wage growth.
There have been signs of household finances improving in recent months, with inflation easing back and evidence of increasing optimism that people expect to start feeling better off soon against a background of recovering house prices and job prospects.
But the findings also come as savers' campaigners are marking five years of the bank rate being held at a historic 0.5% low by highlighting the devastating impact on returns on savings pots.
According to campaign group Save Our Savers, the average saver with £100,000 has seen around £4,000 a year wiped off their yearly income since 2009.
Scottish Widows said its latest report found evidence of a "widening gap" between people who are managing to put money aside and those who are not.
The proportion of people who have over £50,000 put away has increased by one percentage point on the previous year to 12%.
Meanwhile, among those savers who have less than £50,000 put away, the average size of their cash pots has grown by £200 year-on-year, to £10,200 typically.
Scottish Widows found that family pressures are continuing to have a big impact on people's ability to save.
More than two-fifths (41%) of those surveyed had loaned a "substantial" amount to a family member, with the money often going towards helping their relative with living expenses, paying off their debt or going towards a house deposit.
David Lascelles, a savings expert at Scottish Widows, said: "It's promising to see that among those saving, the amount they have put aside has risen year-on-year.
"However, it is concerning that despite economic improvements, the number of people who are able to set something aside for a rainy day is actually falling."