Research from Equifax reveals that 42% of people in the UK have experienced stress or anxiety due to financial difficulties and the majority of consumers (58%) are unaware that financial organisations and utility providers have a responsibility to help consumers if they encounter financial difficulty.
The online survey, conducted by YouGov, highlights that when faced with financial difficulties people are most likely to confide in a partner (48%), while 46% said they would turn to a family member. In terms of financial organisations, 29% of people would talk to their mortgage provider about being in financial difficulty, 45% would talk to their utility providers.
People would, however, be willing to have open discussions with companies they owe money to if they found themselves struggling to make payments. 62% of UK adults said they would be willing to provide additional information, for example about their income or monthly spending, to help that company provide support in times of financial difficulty. Only 4% would be annoyed if organisations asked about personal circumstances if they had missed a payment, while 33% would understand why they asked.
Jake Ranson, Banking & Financial Institutions Director, Equifax UK and Ireland says: “It’s concerning that such a high proportion of the UK experience stress or anxiety because of financial difficulty. People are often embarrassed about struggling with money and the actual number of individuals affected could be substantially higher than the survey indicates.
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“Many things can cause a person to experience financial difficulty, from falling ill and missing work to losing their job. Our research suggests that there’s a reluctance to discuss issues with lenders, and highlights a lack of awareness about the support available to help if you fall behind with repayments.
“It is important that people notify the relevant organisation at the first sign of trouble so they can provide the necessary support. All organisations lending money have a regulatory obligation to identify customers that are financially vulnerable and treat them fairly. When someone is genuinely struggling to make payments companies can employ a range of tools to help, for example providing more time for payments to be made.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,120 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th and 16th November 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).