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

Published on:

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. 

  • 47 million adults across the UK don’t find it easier to talk money or don’t discuss at all.

Despite Covid-19 having a widespread impact on people’s finances and this being a top concern for people (1), 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’s tips for opening up about their money worries during the pandemic

  • Choose who you open up to – Try not to have preconceptions about who you should have these conversations with. Some people might think these are issues to keep in the family but actually some people might find it easier to speak to a professional or a colleague, or someone who may not be directly impacted by your money worries, like a friend or professional.
  • Create a comfortable setting – It will help if you feel as comfortable as possible and your environment can hugely affect this. You might feel more at ease chatting in a kitchen setting, taking in some fresh air as you go for a walk or at your dining room table so you can lay out and refer to relevant papers or budgets. Ensure you won’t be interrupted as this could interfere with your train of thought; put your phones on silent or if you have kids, wait till they’re asleep.
  • Prepare how you’re going to kick it off – Sometimes the hardest part of having a conversation is knowing how to start it. Once you’re past the first few seconds, you might be surprised by how easily the conversation flows. Build confidence by practising your opening sentence; something as simple as, “I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” or “‘I’d like to talk to you about [blank], but first I’d like to get your point of view” can really help.
  • Listen as well as talk – Try to make sure you go into the discussion with an open mind, being prepared to take in the other person’s point of view. Listen to each other as much as possible. Hearing one another’s standpoint in a respectful manner can make the difference between having a constructive conversation versus an unproductive argument.
  • Tie into the news agenda – Covid-19 is dominating news channels and will do for the foreseeable future as new schemes are announced and news on the financial effects are reported. If you see a news bulletin relevant to your situation, use this as a springboard to initiate a conversation – it’s a useful way to break the ice and remember many people are in the same boat right now.
  • Check in with friends and family – Once you’ve made the first step to opening up about your financial worries, you can help others to do the same. Never force someone into a conversation as they’ll only be defensive, but do remind them you’re here to chat if they need support, in person or on a call.

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 –

Notes to editors

  1. ONS, Personal and Economic Wellbeing in Great BritainOpens in a new window 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%.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact MaPS Press Office:

020 8132 5284Opens in a new window in a new window