The Money and Pensions Service

Coronavirus worries fail to break down barriers to talking about money for 9 in 10 across the UK

Nine in ten people still do not find it easier to talk about finances during the Covid-19 pandemic or do not discuss money with anyone, according to the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), which is urging the UK to start talking money now to avoid harm to people’s overall wellbeing. 

Despite Covid-19 having a widespread impact on people’s finances and this being a top concern for people1, research from the government-backed MaPS, which provides free money guidance to people, reveals 47 million people (90%) say the pandemic hasn’t made it easier to have money conversations.2 83% of the UK population say the current situation has not made a difference to their ability to discuss finances, and 6% say it has made it harder.3

Those who find having money conversations harder due to Covid-19 say the reason they avoid them is because their financial situation causes them anxiety or stress (36%) and they don’t want to make others worry about them (33%).

Coping with new circumstances is a barrier to talking about money. People claiming benefits or anticipating they will need to in the next 6 months due to Covid-19 are almost three times more likely to find having money conversations harder than the UK average (17%). More than 1 in 3 (36%) people are uncomfortable with telling others they are claiming due to the pandemic.

So far, only 1 in 6 people (17%) say they have asked others about their financial situation because they are worried about them, suggesting there could be an opportunity for family and friends to step up in acting as money supporters for their loved ones.

However, of the minority of people (9%) who said they have found it easier to talk about their finances as a result of Covid-19, nearly a third (31%) say they do it because they feel better after discussing financial concerns.

Sarah Porretta, Strategy and Insights Director at the Money and Pensions Service said:

“It’s really worrying that people aren’t opening up about their finances during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though so many people are facing similar challenges, have money worries on their minds, and are spending more time in their household groups, the research shows us our fundamental behaviour around talking money hasn’t changed. It’s a difficult time and people have a lot to process right now, but not communicating about money or keeping secrets can cause further problems for our overall wellbeing and that of our loved ones.

“As we rethink how we live our everyday lives in the wake of Covid-19, this is an opportunity for people to start opening up about money matters. Whether that’s with an expert, or the people closest to you, talking is a great first step towards managing financial issues and can often make things feel less daunting. Anyone who needs help talking through money challenges due to Coronavirus can contact the Money Advice Service helpline or website for free, confidential guidance or for specialist pensions support contact The Pensions Advisory Service.”

Commenting on the findings, Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James said:

“Given the financial impact of Covid-19, it’s more important than ever to be open and honest when talking about money, unfortunately, it’s considered a taboo subject by many. Our handling of money can be closely linked with our sense of self-worth, so if someone is experiencing money problems they often feel shame or embarrassment. The problem is, keeping financial worries a secret can have a damaging effect on your emotional and mental wellbeing. By not talking about the problem, often you end up making the situation worse, and it can also put unnecessary emotional strain on yourself and your relationships. More often than not, the fear of talking about money is often far worse than actually having the conversation. Finally talking about it tends to bring a great sense of relief.

“If you’re facing financial strain, you need to first of all confront your difficult feelings about money in order to move forward and tackle the problem. It can be hard to take the first step of opening up to your friends or family, but it’s likely you’ll find many people are in the same boat. There’s also specialist support available and plenty of ideas online about how to approach and tackle this tricky topic with the different people in our lives.”

Honey has offered the following tips for people to enable them to open up about their money worries during the pandemic:

MaPS also runs Talk Money Week, an annual campaign to get the nation having conversations about money. Talking about finances has been shown to help people make better and less risky financial decisions, feel less stressed or anxious and more in control, have stronger personal relationships, and help their children form good lifetime money habits. Talk Money Week will take place from 9-13 November 2020.

-ENDS-   

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Notes to editors

The research was conducted by Opinium Research for the Money and Pensions Service. A nationally representative survey of 2,004 UK adults was conducted from 19th-21st May 2020.

  1. ONS, Personal and Economic Wellbeing in Great Britain, May 2020, 5th May 2020
  2. 6.4% of respondents said it is harder + 43.9% said they do not discuss their finances with anyone + 39.3% said they neither find it easier or harder to discuss finances = 90% said it is not easier to have money conversations. There are 52,383,000 adults aged over 18 living in the UK (ONS). 90% of 52,383,000 million adults in the UK = 46,939,545
  3. 44% of respondents said they do not discuss finances with anyone as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, + 39% say they haven’t found it easier or harder to discuss finances, = 83%

About the Money and Pensions Service   

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) vision is: ‘everyone making the most of their money and pensions.’   

MaPS is an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and it has a joint commitment to provide access to the information and guidance people across the UK need, to make effective financial decisions over their lifetime.

The organisation also engages with HM Treasury on policy matters relating to financial capability and debt advice.   

MaPS brings together the free services previously delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. MaPS offers customers guidance and appointments over the telephone, online and in person.   

For further information visit the Money and Pensions Service website www.moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk 

Consumers can continue to access free guidance about their money and pensions via the following websites and helplines:

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk / 0800 138 7777   

www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk / 0800 011 3797  

 www.pensionwise.gov.uk/en / 0800 138 3944