01 July 2019

Brits "more pessimistic and polarised" about Brexit impact on finances

9 min read

 
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Becky O'Connor

Personal Finance Specialist

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  • 36 per cent of British adults - 18 million people - think their finances will get worse after Brexit, up from 32 per cent six months ago
  • 10 per cent – about 5 million people - think their finances will improve
  • 10 per cent of Brits have made changes to their finances specifically because of Brexit
  • 16 per cent – equivalent to 8 million people - have put off a big decision, including booking a holiday, buying a house, buying a car  and retirement

There might be uncertainty over the nature of Britain’s exit from the EU, but on one thing, the nation is making up its mind: Brexit will have an impact on personal finances.

On whether that impact will be positive or negative, opinion is increasingly polarised.

The third quarterly YouGov survey on behalf of Royal London, the mutual insurer, found that age and gender make a big difference to expectations, with women more likely to expect their finances to get worse rather than better after Brexit (35 per cent pessimistic and 7 per cent optimistic). Those aged 25 to 49 are also more likely to expect a decline in their finances rather than an improvement (41 per cent pessimistic compared with 7 per cent who are optimistic).

On the other hand, men over retirement age are more likely than any other group to say they think their personal finances will get better, with 22 per cent of men aged over 65 expecting an improvement and 48 per cent thinking their finances will stay “much the same”.

Becky O’Connor, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: “The UK is becoming united in its certainty that Brexit will have an impact on their personal finances.

“However Brits are becoming more polarised about whether that impact will be positive or negative.

“On balance, across all demographic groups, people are more pessimistic. This is leading to delays in big financial decisions, such as buying a house and even retiring.

“The schism in expectations between the working age population and the retired population suggests that income insecurity plays a part in someone’s outlook.”

“Anyone who is worried can take some precautions with their cash, such as making sure they have a savings buffer worth three to six months’ of salary and talking through the risk level of their long-term investments and pensions with an independent financial adviser.”

Expectations for personal finances once Britain leaves the EU (% GB Adults)

Personal finances will... May 2019 Feb 2019 Nov 2019
get better 10 9 8
get worse 36 35 32
stay the same 37 39 38
don't know 17 17 23

 

Gender Brexit worry gap

Women are significantly more likely to fear the impact of Brexit on their financial wellbeing than retired men.

The survey found that women are five times more likely to say they think their own personal finances will get worse rather than better: 35 per cent of women think they will get worse compared with 7 per cent who expect an improvement.

Only 7 per cent of women think their finances will get better, compared to 14 per cent of men.

However men are more likely to be pessimistic in general, with 36 per cent believing their finances will get worse in a post-Brexit world. But they are more likely than women to have a view, with only 14 per cent of men saying they don’t know, compared to 21 per cent of women.

Expectations for personal finances once Britain leaves the EU by gender May 2019

Personal finances will... Women % May 2019 (Feb 2019) Men % May 2019 (Feb 2019)
get better 7 (6) 14 (11)
get worse 35 (34) 36 (36)
stay the same 37 (39) 36 (40)
don't know 21 (21) 14 (13)

 

Working age Brits more pessimistic than retired

The majority of the working age population expect their finances will suffer following Brexit. Four in ten (41 per cent) working age Brits think their finances will get worse, while less than one in ten (10 per cent) expect an improvement.

Among retirement-age Brits, 15 per cent expect an improvement compared with 20 per cent who feel pessimistic – a more even distribution of expectations.

Gen Z: most pessimistic, most uncertain, most polarised

The proportion of 18 to 24-year olds who expect their finances will get worse has risen from 37 per cent in November 2018 to 42 per cent last month.

Meanwhile, 8 per cent in this age group now expect an improvement in their financial fortunes - up from 2 per cent six months ago.

Expectations for personal finances once Britain leaves the EU by age group May 2019

Personal finances will... Age 18 - 24 % May 2019 (% Feb 2019) Age 25 - 49 % May 2019 (% Feb 2019) Age 50 - 64 % May (% Feb 2019) Age 65 or over % May (% Feb 2019)
get better 8 (6) 7 (7) 12 (9) 15 (13)
get worse 42 (36) 41 (41) 38 (36) 20 (22)
stay the same 20 (29) 33 (31) 37 (41) 51 (56)
don't know 20 (29) 19 (21) 13 (14) 14 (9)

 

Has Brexit caused delays to big financial decisions?

Around eight million Brits – 16 per cent of the population, have put off making a big financial decision as a result of Brexit. There were increases in the number who had delayed buying a home (up from 29 per cent of those who had delayed a decision last quarter to 34 per cent, or 2.7 million people) and delayed retirement (up from 9 per cent to 14 per cent, or 1.1 million people).

The proportion of those eight million delaying a holiday fell from 46 per cent in February to 36 per cent, perhaps reflecting a seasonal dip in holiday buying, while the proportion delaying a car purchase was relatively unchanged, rising from 26 per cent to 29 per cent of those who had delayed a decision.

2.7 million delay home-buying because of Brexit

Of these eight million, the proportion delaying buying a house rose has risen from 29 per cent in February to 34 per cent in May – a key home-buying month - equivalent to 2.7 million people.

380,000 delay retirement decisions because of Brexit

The proportion of those who have put off a decision who are delaying retirement has risen from 9 per cent to 14 per cent – equivalent to 380,000 Brits.

Are people making general changes to their personal finances because of Brexit uncertainty?

The proportion of people who have made changes to their general personal finances in response to Brexit uncertainty has increased from 8 to 10 per cent in the last three months.

Food, currency weakness and energy prices top list of concerns

A rise in the cost of food, a fall in the value of the Pound and an increase in the cost of energy were the top three biggest concerns among those fearing the worst for their money, with 92 per cent of this group – approximately 16 million GB adults - expecting the cost of food to go up, the survey found.

Meanwhile 86 per cent (equal to almost 14 million GB adults) of those who expect a general decline in their financial situation believe the value of the Pound will fall and 77 per cent – up from 71 per cent three months’ ago - think the cost of energy will rise after Brexit.

Worries about a possible rise in the cost of borrowing also increased by 5 percentage points.

Londoners and Scots most pessimistic

Regionally, Londoners and Scots are were most likely to say they expect their personal finances to get worse, while people in the rest of the south, the Midlands, Wales and the North were more likely to say their finances will stay the same.

Expectations for personal finances once Britain leaves the EU by region May 2019

Notes to editors:

ISDN line available for radio interviews please contact for details.

Infographic available.

Royal London has published a six-point action plan for those worried about the impact of Brexit on their personal finances, which is available here from Monday July 1: https://www.royallondon.com/media/in-brief/

All percentages, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,804 adults.

Royal London has calculated the population figures based on these percentages and the ONS’s total population figures for Great Britain.

There are approximately 50 million GB adults aged 18+ (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland)

Fieldwork was undertaken between 29-30 May 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Royal London published results of it’s first “Brexit and personal finances” survey in November 2018. The press release can be found here

The second “Brexit and personal finances” survey can be found here

For further information please contact:

Becky O’Connor, Personal Finance Specialist

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £130 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 4,046 employees. Figures quoted are as at June 2019.