More than 16 million working age people across the country have less than £100 in savings available, research has found.
Two-fifths (40%) of working age people lack a decent savings buffer, with less than £100 in savings available to them at any particular time, according to independent body the Money Advice Service (MAS). This equates to 16.8 million people across the UK.
In Northern Ireland, Wales, the West Midlands, the North East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber just over half of working age people have less than £100 in savings available, the MAS said.
The body said "worryingly low levels of savings" mean many people are vulnerable to unexpected bills that may have serious consequences on their financial stability.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of people experience at least one unforeseen expense per year, the MAS added.
It said for low income earners, saving presents a particular challenge.
The MAS suggests people should try to save regularly, even if the amounts are small. It has tools on its website - www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk - to help people to get into the savings habit.
Nick Hill, a money expert at the MAS, said: "These figures show the millions put at risk by the saving gaps in the UK.
"Everyone's situations and abilities are different, so it's important to find an approach to saving that's right for them and their household.
"For some on low incomes, saving is a real challenge as they may simply lack the income needed to save at all.
"But for many, developing a savings habit is very achievable. Regular saving is key to building up that buffer against those life surprises."
The research was compiled for the MAS by consumer data company CACI.
Recent Government changes have taken many people out of paying tax on the interest they earn on their savings altogether - but the savings rates available have continued to decline in the low interest rate environment.
Financial information website Moneyfacts.co.uk says there have been more than 130 rate cuts in this month alone and only around 20 increases across the adult savings account market.
Last month there were 388 rate cuts to adult savings accounts and just three increases across adult savings accounts.
Here are the percentages of working age people who have less than £100 in savings across the UK, according to the findings released by the MAS:
:: Northern Ireland, 56.8%
:: West Midlands, 55.2%
:: Yorkshire and the Humber, 50.9%
:: North East, 50.7%
:: Wales, 50.1%
:: Scotland, 48.4%
:: East Midlands, 47.9%
:: North West, 47.4%
:: London, 42.3%
:: South West, 37.4%
:: East of England, 36.3%
:: South East, 30.1%