Wellbeing And Debt In The UK

To explore How increased financial pressures have an impact on the well-being of UK citizensThe Office for National Statistics (ONS), has examined Opinions and Lifestyle Survey data. Citizens Advice (CA) data and spoke with experts from CA Money Advice Trust.

Collaboration between ONS, charitable organizations demonstrates the power and value of civil society data. We summarize the main insights from the analysis.

The key insights

  • Adults in the UK More borrowing Reporting was twice as likely if you had more money than it was to use credit. Low happinessMore likely to report High anxiety.
  • Adults in the UK Struggling to pay your bills Report lower wellbeing.
  • In three years, the number of cases of fuel debts has doubled.
  • Rising prices are likely to lead to older adults reducing their energy use.
  • Combining ONS and civil society data allows for a Deep dive into personal finance The national wellbeing framework.

Borrowing and well-being

22 percent of 11.5 million respondents reported that they borrowed more money between 25 January 2023 and 5 February 2023. This is a 5 percent increase over the 17% reported in the same period last years, which suggests growing financial pressures.


  • Renters
  • Parents of dependent children
  • People who live in the most deserving areas of the UK

Based on data from September 2022 to January 20,23, 22 percent of those who reported increasing borrowing also reported low happiness. This is based upon analysis that covered the period from September 2022 through January 2023. However, 11% of adults who have not increased their borrowing report low happiness.

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People who borrowed more were more likely to have high anxiety scores (45%) than those who didn’t use credit (31%).

Arrears and wellbeing

Citizens Advice handled almost 9500 fuel debt cases in January 2023, which is twice the amount since January 2020.

People who reported falling behind in their energy bills between 14/09/2022 and 8/01/2023 reported lower well-being. 28% of these people reported low levels of satisfaction with their lives, which is three times more than those who have a stable financial position (9%).

Half of adults with arrears (49%), also reported high levels anxiety, as did 33% of those not in arrears (33%). An ONS analysis of the autumn 2022 shows that people who are behind in energy bills have a higher chance of falling behind than those who are not. You are more likely to experience moderate-to-severe depression symptoms.

Many adults have taken steps to reduce their energy consumption in autumn and winter to combat rising energy prices. This response is different depending on age. Around 40% of 16-24-year-olds respond to this, compared to 70% for 55-74-year olds. This could partially explain the higher levels of anxiety among older people.

Adults who find it difficult to make rent or mortgage payments (51%), had greater anxiety than those who can afford housing payments (29%).

Covid-19’s long-lasting effects

We know that the Covid-19 epidemic shifted anxiety levels in the UK, and this trend has continued. This may partly be due to increased financial pressures.

Data: Measures and methods

The ONS analysis combines OPN data from September 2022 through January 2023 with data collected and compiled by Advice Citizens. It examines the financial situation of adults (16 and older) in Great Britain, broken down by wellbeing or loneliness.

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The OPN was made weekly in March 2020 to help understand the effects of Covid-19 on UK life. It was updated every fortnight starting 25 August 2021. Each period had a sample of approximately 5,000 adults to ensure that the survey was sustainable. It includes topics like cost of living and scarcity of goods, and also collects the ONS4 well-being variables.

Advisors who work with clients with specific debt sources record the Active Citizens. These data only represent people who have received help from the charity. These data are not representative of all people who receive help from the charity. Monthly counts The number of clients we helped was staggering.

These two types of data can be used to help you understand if your fuel bills are related to debt. The full report is available here Great Britain: Debt and well-being Data set on the ONS Website

What’s next?

Being able to control your money and feel educated is key to wellbeing. Employers have the unique ability to provide financial guidance to employees, especially during transitional periods in their lives. This is part of an overall organisational wellness program. This is mutually beneficial as employees who are financially healthy are more productive.

We are currently reviewing employer interventions to support financial education and well-being of employees. For the next financial year, we are looking for co-funders. Please contact us if you are interested in co-funding our next financial year. Get in touch.

Explore Money and Pensions Service to learn more about how your organization can improve financial well-being for UK citizens. Delivery plans and UK Financial Wellbeing Strategy.

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