04 March 2019

Millions of Brits fear cost of living surge post-Brexit

7 min read

Royal London logo
Becky O'Connor

Personal Finance Specialist


  • 35 per cent of British adults, around 17 million people, think their finances will get worse after Brexit, up from 32 per cent last quarter
  • 93 per cent of those who think their financial situation will worsen, around 16 million people, are most worried about the cost of food rising
  • 15 per cent of Brits have put off making a big financial decision, with delays to booking a holiday, buying a home and buying a car

As the date of a possible withdrawal from the EU looms, more Brits than last year fear for their financial wellbeing in a post-Brexit world, with worries about a rise in the cost of food topping the list of concerns, according to new figures from YouGov, on behalf of mutual insurer Royal London.

Overall, 35 per cent of Brits – around 17 million people (as calculated by Royal London using ONS figures) - think their personal finances in general will get worse once the UK leaves the EU in less than a month’s time, up from 32 per cent three months ago (November 2018).

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 93 per cent – approximately 16 million GB adults - expecting the cost of food to go up, the survey found.

Meanwhile 84 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 71 per cent think the cost of energy will rise after Brexit.

These were the top three concerns among both those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave and who expect their financial situation to worsen.

A further 39 per cent expect their financial situation will stay the same (up from 38 per cent in November 2018), 9 per cent think it will get better (up from 8 per cent in November) and 17 per cent “don’t know” (down from 23 per cent).

Overall, 63 per cent of remain voters believe that their personal finances will get worse following Brexit, compared with 11 per cent of those who voted to leave.

Just 1 per cent of remain voters think their finances will get better, against 17 per cent of leave voters. Meanwhile, 23 per cent of remain voters think their finances will stay much the same, compared with 59 per cent of leave voters.

The proportion who “don’t know” was roughly even across the remain and leave camps, with 13 per cent of remain voters and 12 per cent of leave voters saying they aren’t sure.

Becky O’Connor, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said:

“People are becoming more pessimistic about the real impact Brexit is going to have on them personally with each passing day, but they still don’t know what, if anything, to do about it.

“But 15 per cent of Brits have put off making a big financial decision – that’s millions of people not getting on with their lives – not buying homes, not going on holiday, not buying cars, as Brexit negotiations roll on.”

Among those who think their personal finances will improve, a rise in the value of the Pound (64 per cent) and a fall in the cost of food (34 per cent) were cited as the biggest reasons.

8 per cent of those surveyed – equal to around 4 million people - said they have already made changes to their personal finances specifically because of uncertainty around Brexit, while 87 per cent had not made any changes.

Of those who had made changes, 63 per cent said they had reduced their spending, 46 per cent had increased their savings and 27 per cent had chosen not to go on holiday this year.

15 per cent of the British adult population – said they had put off making a big financial decision because of Brexit, with 46 per cent of these saying they had put off booking a holiday, 29 per cent saying they had put off buying a house and 26 per cent saying they had delayed buying or leasing a car. 9 per cent said they had put off retirement, rising to 22 per cent of those aged 50 to 64.

“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, exchanging currency in advance to secure a certain rate and talking through the risk level of their long-term investments and pensions with an independent financial adviser.”

Notes to editors:

All percentages, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,804 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 20th February 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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

Royal London published results of it’s first “Brexit and personal finances” survey in November 2018. The press release can be found here: https://www.royallondon.com/media/press-releases/2018/november/new-research-shows-consumers-baffled-about-how-to-respond-to-brexit-uncertainty/

For further information please contact:

Lucy Field, Press Officer

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £117 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,745 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2018.