/ Money

Chancellor, how can we save when we’re spending everyday?

Money falling out of jeans pocket

Predictions of an increase in consumer spending might paint a rosy picture of economic recovery, but if that comes at the cost of your savings, we need a Budget that will put money back in people’s pockets.

We’re on the road to financial recovery! Or so the latest figures and projections for increased consumer spending might make you hope.

The more sceptical among us might be tempted to question such rosy predictions. Spending may well be up, but how could it not be with the price of fuel at an all time high and the cost of food on the increase?

And while figures suggest that spending on ‘discretionary’ items, like clothes and shoes, has also gone up, the reality is that there’s only so long we can put off buying such ‘non-essentials’ as this age of economic uncertainty rumbles on.

Are you eating into your savings to buy the basics?

Our latest research shows just how shaky consumer confidence remains. More than half of us feel worse off than in 2007, and four in ten people have reported a decline in household income. ‘Worry’ is the prevailing emotion for many of us – three in ten are anxious about the next year.

High on the list of worries is the price of everyday essentials like energy, fuel and food. And, as we’ve previously mentioned, one in four people told us that they had to eat into their savings just to buy food and other daily essentials. And one in five had even gone into debt for this.

Without a bit of help from George Osborne’s Budget tomorrow, these figures are unlikely to improve – less than half of people say they’re coping on their current incomes.

Understandably, many people are looking for ways to make their money go further, such as comparing prices online and visiting second hand shops. You even shared tips for saving money on food bills here on Which? Conversation, such as cooking with beans and lentils.

But the news that people are cannibalising their existing savings to pay for necessities sets all sorts of alarm bells ringing, not just now but for the future.

Simply postponing the problem

While dipping into your savings might make for a boost in spending now, all this is likely to do is postpone economic problems until further down the line. A time when savings people had been relying on to pay for their future wellbeing have vanished.

So, it’s vital that tomorrow’s Budget takes into account consumer concerns. As Which? executive director Richard Lloyd puts it:

‘We need a Budget that will put money back in people’s pockets, helping households to cope with rising fuel, energy, mortgage and food costs. That’s what will really boost consumer confidence and spending power, which is essential for getting sustainable growth going in the real economy.’

How are your finances looking at the moment? Are you feeling the squeeze or experiencing the green shoots of recovery, and how is it impacting your buying and saving habits?

Comments
Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Something is very wrong in this country.
Successive government’s have pandered to business needs too much.
Under the guise of “saving money” it has cost us all record amounts.
Business has shaped regulation policies and controls regulation and enforcement of it, so all the laws in place to protect people, cannot be enforced even if we wanted to.

There is evidence recently that this is being hushed up and will get worse for us all.
The near collapse of RBS and the £45 Billion bail out of it (of which the taxpayer is sitting on a £20 Billion loss) was investigated by the FSA.
The FSA stance on “risk based” “advisory” regulation was set in law 2008, after publication of the Hampton report in 2005.
The FSA in 2005 said “Commentators [Hampton] acknowledge that our risk-based approach is one of the most advanced of any financial regulator. However, we continue to refine and improve it in the light of experience so that it responds to changing risk and market developments”
In the RBS report the FSA changed it’s stance to,
“the Report [written by the FSA itself] concludes that the FSA was too focused on conduct regulation at the time and its prudential supervision of major banks was inadequate. The FSA operated a flawed supervisory approach which failed adequately to challenge the judgement and risk assessments of the management of RBS”

The report into HBOS which came later, makes very little reference to the lack of regulation.
So how can such a failure to regulate and enforce be acceptable for every other area of business that effects us all?

This is relevant because the Hampton principles recommended, came from the report, were after consultations with “stakeholders” – trade bodies, big businesses, regulators, enforcement bodies (such as trading standards and OFT) – but not a single consumer!
Why it needs addressing urgently, is because this “risk based/advisory” way of regulating was said by the government in 2005 to be adopted in full and extended to all regulators and enforcement.

Bank charges, cuts in tax credits, “admin fees”, credit/debit card fees for paying for goods, misleading prices, orange mid contract price rises, companies advertising a price that a product cannot be bought for, and many other which? post topics, the list is endless and covers every area.

Under the Hampton principles, the regulator or enforcement body gives businesses a status based on their “compliance” with regulation in the past.
If they have complied they benefit from light touch regulation, providing less information to regulators, no auditing, no inspections without good reason, etc.
Most businesses have a compliant status, it is virtually impossible to lose it.
To have regulator or enforcement body even look at a possible complaint, it must have reported instances in the thousands of the identical complaint.
Even when this happens the business will not lose it’s “compliant” status.

There are no prosecutions as regulation now only targets the rogue businesses that take money and dont do the work, ie, the headline grabbers.
Recent examples of failings – orange price increases, groupon, EDF being fined just £1, etc.

Businesses are not accountable to government, people, regulators, enforcement bodies.
They do what they want and when they finally have a complaint raised against them, they simply change the way they work slightly to appease the regulator’s requests and no punishment, refunds etc are issued back to customers.
People are suffering out there, while businesses are playing games with their “terms and conditions” and prices, they are causing real hardship.
If the government won’t stand up for taxpayers, who will?

Member
Alfred Barker says:
20 March 2012

Prices to travel in this country:
I have just got back from the Kings X station to buy a ticket (return to Durham).
The girl behind the desk told me that it would be over £150. So I said I would think about driving. She couldn’t have cared less. On line the ticket is over £60 cheaper. Someone on the desk could have told me, but they didn’t and weren’t bothered, sheer apathetic attitude, but who can you complain to?!
So much for the idea of road Privatisation and petrol prices and the cost of Rail!

Profile photo of dean
Member

George Osborne will do whatever the unelected City of London tell him to do.

Removing him from office won’t do anything, his replacement will just continue the status quo. There is no other way to explain or articulate all this countries problems.

If the government weren’t accountable to the City of London Corporation, perhaps we could talk about real reforms, but as it stands, and as it will always stand, we’ve got no chance of changing anything.

Member

frugal ways;
Something is very wrong in this country.
Not From our leaders perspective, it’s all going very well!

This is s feudal society which for a great part of its history has been ruled by a wealthy powerful elite, they owned the land and all on it including the people. The people who comprise the majority population have always been employed (used) to the benefit of the land owning moneyed elite.
This is not Marxism it is a statement of fact.

This elite and their descendants, despite historical social reforms, still believe that they have a ‘divine’ right to rule as there forebears did, and will do anything to redress what they believe are great injustices preventing them from the exploitation of the masses they have indulged in for centuries.

For a short period after WW2 whilst we were still in shock and the country in flux, it was possible for Atlee to take Beverages report and put through radical reforms aimed at a fairer and just society, and at last some of the benefits of the contribution made by the majority population was made available to them.
The Welfare state was born, the Labour party when in power tried to build on this until Tony Blair killed the old Labour Party off and installed a Tory mirror in it’s place. (MPs are part of the elite group).

So from Thatcher onwards successive governments have had one agenda, bring back the good old days of serfdom and exploitation, remove these newly won rights for the working person, and get rid of expensive universal healthcare.

What you are experiencing is Cameron Clegg & Co. moving the project forward, basically you aint seen nothing yet.
And for those of you who believed that the liberal party would keep a check on the Tories, have a look at our political history to see who has run the most corrupt governments in this countries history.

Profile photo of richard
Member

Have you noticed the “granny tax” – Basically cuts to pensioners tax allowances (strangely not released like the others) So state pensioners suffering more than others,

Time to take to the streets again.

Member

If you are too old to work, you are too old to exploit, or contribute as it put in newspeak.

Therefore you are considered a burden to the state are then accused of draining the system.
In addition to the hidden yearly cull of thousands our elderly relatives, by hypothermia or starvation every winter. We at last are exposing the mistreatment we can expect in care homes, hospitals and in our own homes.

Respect for the elderly is a thing of the past, gratitude for the contribution our elders have made in building this country is non existent.

Who is responsible for steering the psyche of this country in this direction?

Well if the government assault the elderly, rob them of their rights and steal their money, does this not signal to our young that it is OK for them to do the same?

The Granny tax is a signal to all, it’s Ok to pickl on the elderly, they cant fight back……