/ Money

Are you concerned about spending and saving?

shopping in Glasgow

Our latest research suggests that Scottish consumers have more concerns about public spending cuts, the cost of essentials and the state of the economy than the rest of the UK. Whether you’re a Scottish resident or you live elsewhere, does this ring true with you?

We’ve just published our latest Consumer Insight Report for Scotland, which portrays a picture of how Scottish residents are coping financially, what concerns them, and what their spending habits are.

Is Scotland the UK’s most concerned nation?

Our research is based on analysis of regular polling of consumers across the UK throughout 2017. It found that Scottish residents were most concerned about public spending cuts, followed closely by the cost of daily essentials – fuel, energy and food.

Interestingly, when we compared Scottish levels of consumer worry to the rest of the UK, in most areas, it seemed that Scottish consumers had greater levels of concern than their counterparts in the rest of the UK. Does this match your experiences?

Our research also found that many Scottish consumers are anxious about the current, and future, state of the UK economy, with nearly half rating the state of the UK economy as ‘very poor’ or ‘fairly poor’. This was a higher proportion than in England, Northern Ireland or Wales. Over half of Scots also said the state of the economy was likely to get worse over the next year.

More bills, less fun?

So what’s the impact of this outlook on Scots’ household finances? We found that many Scottish residents anticipate increasing spending on the ‘must-pay’ bills in the next 12 months – such as energy bills and groceries, running a car and paying rent or mortgage.

Of course, this leaves less room for the fun stuff in life – so does this mean that Scots are spending less money on having fun than residents in the rest of the UK?

The areas they were likely to reduce spending on were the ‘luxury’ items, including socialising, eating out and takeaways, household items like appliances and alcohol or tobacco. Worryingly, one in five feel they may have to decrease the amount they put away into savings and investments.

Businesses must earn Scottish consumers’ trust

Our findings show that certain industries need to do much more to gain consumer trust – these include the car industry, and estate and lettings agents, with level of trust below 10%. Gas and electricity companies could do better for Scottish consumers at 31%, and airline/holiday operators and train travel also have room for improvement.

Perhaps they should learn from the industries at the top of the table – the water industry enjoys an amazing 69% trust. Some of the providers of essential services could also do better – broadband/home phone providers, banking and mobile phone services all stand at less than 45%.

A new consumer body in Scotland

After long delays, the Scottish government is due to consult on a new consumer body, Consumer Scotland within the next few months. We call on the government to ensure a more coordinated approach to consumer policy in Scotland – making sure that consumers are at the heart of decision-making, and that their concerns are heard and understood properly.

Do other nations share Scotland’s concerns?

We’re keen to hear from you – whether you live in Scotland or not – to find out whether you think this research reflects your own experiences.

Do you think people in Scotland have more concerns about their finances and the state of the economy than those living in the UK’s other nations? Are there some specific issues that concern Scottish consumers more than other UK countries – and vice versa?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

🙁 I don’t see this Convo as needing party politics, an independence referendum, or newspapers to be brought in. Simply a discussion of perceptions of the state of the economy. It has been a tough time for many, in the rest of the UK as well as in Scotland. Difficult and unpopular ways were needed to try to get the economy back on its feet; it is easy to say that another group would have done it better, but since they never had that responsibility we will never know.

Many people have (sort of) weathered the storm, even though they may well have pruned their spending. Incidentally you can have fun cheaply – doesn’t need to involve big spending.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

It is probably a truth that life is different in various parts of the U.K. Yes, we all go to work, shop and do other similar things, but the climate, the topography, the density of population, speech, the separate cultures that have grown over centuries and the nature of work available, all make for a different outlook. Therefore it is no surprise to be told that the Scots are concerned with spending cuts and rising bills. Others of us may also be concerned but have a different set of reasons to be worried. Any area of low wage and poor employment prospects will be upset that their infrastructure is also poor. Those in more affluent areas will be upset because they are seeing high expectations unmet and their expected social environment crumbling due to lack of money -among other things. There is a constant argument between those who wish to spend and borrow to improve our NHS and other services and those who wish to see the country’s debt reduced and its population living within its means. When most of us are feeling the pinch it is easy to complain and become despondent. The political parties can not agree and two extremes have been recommended. The conservatives are gradually inching towards a more relaxed spending regime the labour party still wish to borrow and spend because they believe that with low interest rates borrowing can generate revenue to repay the debt later on.
Our social, educational and health services will continue to suck money from the national bank balance and we could probably increase spending by fifty percent and still not be satisfied with the outcomes. Likewise there is a limit to the savings to be made from efficiency when the third purge has gone through the system.
You would need a sociologist and some research to determine whether the Scottish psyche is more prone to picking faults with service providers than other areas of the country. But I would be surprised if this was the case unless Scottish service providers are worse than most. Bad service is annoying where ever it occurs and people will complain about it where ever the live.

I was struck by the tone of the summary:

We call on the government to ensure a more coordinated approach to consumer policy in Scotland – making sure that consumers are at the heart of decision-making, and that their concerns are heard and understood properly.

That epitomises what any government should be doing for its people and, in reality, it’s not that hard to achieve. It requires detailed, open and transparent consultations with the people who matter: the consumers, but sadly all too often the consumer is simply notified about changes weeks before they’re due to occur and all too often with no consultation whatsoever. And that’s a betrayal of the people concerned.