/ Money

Budget 2017: how can it help the five million ‘working and struggling’?

UK money worries

Millions of households in the UK are worried about their finances. But what can be done to change this? 

Next Wednesday, Philip Hammond MP, will give his first Budget as Chancellor.

With our latest research finding that five million working people in the UK are now worried about their financial situation, we’re urging the government to use the Budget, along with the promised Green Paper on markets, to consider how it can deliver measures to help them.

Our findings

We looked at how full- and part-time workers felt about their finances. We found that five million of them were struggling, and classed their financial situation as poor or very poor.

Overall, 28% of all UK households said they were experiencing some form of financial distress, be it relying more on overdrafts and loans, or struggling to pay their mortgage/rent and everyday household bills.

When we asked those working households who felt negatively about their financial situation, this rose to three in five (61%).

A fifth had taken a loan or credit card, borrowed money from friends and family or used authorised overdrafts.

Others told us they were cutting back, while one in five (19%) people had defaulted on a loan, bill, mortgage payment or their rent.

Nearly two fifths (38%) thought their financial situation would get worse in the next year, with levels of household debt, fuel prices, housing costs, food prices, and household savings and investments chief among their concerns.

Green Paper on markets

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the government would be publishing a Green Paper on markets ‘that are not working fairly for consumers’. This is due this spring.

We welcome this and think it’s a great opportunity to finally crack the problems that consumers face in the critical markets, such as financial services, energy, telecoms and transport, and make sure these markets work better for them.

This should include looking at gaps that currently exist in consumers getting redress when things go wrong, or when they don’t get the service they were expecting.

More also needs to be done to encourage people to switch providers to get a better deal. Recent figures from Ofgem on the number of consumers switching their energy company are promising, but more needs to be done to ensure more people do it – and across all markets.

What can be done?

In her first statement in July last year, the Prime Minister said she’d be focusing on helping people who were ‘just managing’.

At a time when people are clearly feeling the pinch, we’re urging the government to use its upcoming Budget and the Green Paper to do just that.

We think it should consider how it can use both to deliver measures that will help ‘working and struggling’ families improve their financial situation and make the critical markets work better for them.

Do you consider yourself among the ‘working and struggling’? Or do you know someone who is? How can the Chancellor use the forthcoming Budget and Green Paper on markets to help?


Being of four score years and ten, plus a bit more, I was brought up to value money. Now a days, children do not seem to be taught on how to handle their finances. They do not seem to grasp the idea, if you borrow money, you pay back more than you borrow. Credit cards are a great idea, providing you keep them under control. Years ago, you used to have to put a 30%, or around that figure, deposit on whatever you bought on credit. Today everybody seems to want everything yesterday. Or maybe I have got it wrong for many years.

John Wood says:
4 March 2017

You’ve got it right Napper, fear not, whatever “The Guardian” might tell you.

Jane Giffould says:
4 March 2017

Being nearly 3 score and 10 I remember when austerity was the norm and rationing was in place. My family only bought if we could afford it and we lived in my grandmother’s house. Hire purchase was a no-no as we understood how that was a good way to pay over the odds for something. I played Monopoly from an early age, it helped understand finance. I brought my son up on Monopoly so that he could understand finance as well. At boarding school we were allowed £1 pocket money for the whole term, we had to keep track of spending with a cash book. Budgeting was understood. Education nowadays needs to instill an understanding of finance into students, not just in theory but in practical ways so they can understand that they do not get something for nothing but must learn to budget along with saving for items that they need whilst realising that they cannot have everything and not be conned by ads.


Wise advice Jane which is going to be ignored when the global drive to remove cash money from circulation tales effect benefiting only those with vast banking interests , certainly not the general public using the feeble excuse of money laundering /fraud by small time crooks .

Jo says:
5 March 2017

l also am of that certain age when you had to save foressentials and luxuries and l still do .I think we were also told not to be a lender or a borrower.It must be very difficult for younger people when they are bombared with adverts telling them that they can not be without this or that gadget. Education on how to handle money and resist over spending should be on schools ciriculums.

chris says:
12 June 2017

I would have thought that by paying for everything in virtual money would make it even more open to fraud – especially considering all the hacking going on with banks and the NHS and I am sure many more. Another win-win situation for the banks of course who will be bailed out yet again by the very taxpayers they are fleecing in the first place


Head to US States like Arizona Chris who have made gold+silver legal tender as well as Utah , its putting the fear of death into big banks – quote-Professor Loren Gatch- discontent –the government /Federal Reserve ( who owns ya baby ? ) is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the Dollar . It would also cause a major upset here if implemented as the government would fight it tooth+nail ( on behalf of the banks+ Big Business ) if the Pound Note was scrapped and we went back to gold then HMG would have to live within its means – no more loans from the IMF/WB and they would be mightily upset and as they run the world would not allow it. Your right -Virtual Money ? = zero freedom of the public. Time for another Wat Tyler to rise up ??


I don’t suppose there is anything like enough gold held in the UK’s reserve deposits to substitute for paper money or invisible money [gilts, bonds, debentures, etc] so it would be practically impossible to return to the gold standard now. Even if every surplus asset was sold and converted into gold there would probably still be a shortfall. The banks would not be able to convert to gold unilaterally because the government, through Parliament, controls the money supply. National economies are based on exchange rates which, as Ian reminds us from time to time, are pure fantasy once you reach the supra-national level and are based on exactly nothing – other than confidence, which has mercurial properties.