/ Money

Are you feeling the squeeze?

Wrench squeezing money

More than 10 million households are feeling the squeeze. These people are dipping into their savings, borrowing money and generally cutting back to make ends meet. What about you?

More than a third of the population felt the squeeze in October, according to our monthly Consumer Insight survey. That’s 10.2 million households struggling. However, not everyone’s on the same level of financial distress.

That’s where the Which? Squeezometer comes in, which uses our survey to group peoples’ experiences of financial difficulty into five levels of severity.

Which? Squeezometer – what level are you on?

Which? Squeezometer Of the 10 million households who have been feeling the squeeze, 2.3 million fall into the most severe category (level 5) as they’ve defaulted on a loan, bill or housing payment. And 1.5m (level 4) took out one or more unauthorised overdrafts or payday loans, just to make ends meet. You can see how these people compare to those in less serious financial situations in our Squeezometer picture to the left (click to enlarge).

Two thirds of people also told us that the UK economy has had a negative impact on their personal finances. So, ahead of the Autumn Statement, we’re calling on the government to put consumers at the heart of measures to drive economic recovery. Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘With 10 million households feeling the squeeze and consumer confidence remaining low, the government has a job on its hands to convince people that everything possible is being done to keep unavoidable costs like energy and food bills under control.’

It’s energy and food that most people are worried about at the moment – with three quarters saying they’re either ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ worried about these areas. This compares to two thirds who are worried about future tax levels, interest rates on their savings, the value of their pensions and public spending cuts.

How has the current economic climate affected your finances? Are you cutting back, and what do you think can be done to improve your financial situation?


It would be interesting to see just how the respondents split their income into different classes of purchases – food, rent, energy, and on “discretionary” purchases – if any – such as entertainment, smoking, alcohol.
As we have a finance problem partly caused by unwise borrowing (personal as well as governmental) I don’t see that the government can be expected to control (subsidise?) food or energy prices other than by ensuring a fair market exists. Somehow we all have to live within our means – not only now but, when, hopefully, the economy improves. Living off debt is not a good solution.

Jenny D says:
4 December 2012

I’m cutting back and spending my savings.
As a lone parent, the thing that would help me most would be if the Government made the £588 a month I spend on childcare tax deductible.

I may be old fashioned but I think it is better if one of the parents looks after the children rather than using childcare. The father should be helping financially except in the case of death or illness, when it would be reasonable to expect benefits.

Wavechange – that makes two of us as old fashioned. I believe families should be the first to help each other – whether childcare, health care, or whatever. Many assume that the State (that’s your money and mine) has a responsibility to look after them. It certainly has when other options are not available, but not when self-help is there – for example your family. This is the problem with universal benefits – not properly evaluated as to need. They go to people who don’t need them, as well as those that do. And at what cost!