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The coronavirus effect on household finances

Find out how the coronavirus pandemic has affected personal finances.

Download the full report

We have used data from our clients to understand how the coronavirus pandemic has affected personal finances in the UK, from April to October 2020.

The pandemic has delivered a significant blow to household finances. The need to lock down large swathes of the economy for extended periods has meant that many have lost work, resulting in large income shocks. 

Using data gathered through advice sessions and online survey data, this report highlights demographic changes among our client population, as well as shifts in the debt profiles of our clients that have occurred during the pandemic. The report also crucially explores the factors that have underpinned clients’ financial difficulty, and how they’ve coped through this adverse time.

Here, you can find some of the key findings from our latest research:

Number one

Many face a financial crisis

Many new StepChange clients faced financial difficulties throughout the pandemic.

Covid-19 has crippled us financially, it’s been extremely difficult

Number 2

Arrears levels have been rising over the course of the pandemic

A growing proportion of new clients had fallen behind on essential household payments such as , utility bills and rent between April and October 2020.

in October, 29% of new clients had council tax arrears
Number three

Many clients are facing income shocks

Income falls from job losses, hours reductions and furlough meant that people were struggling to make ends meet and falling further into debt.

If I can't get back to work soon and earn, I will get into further debt
Number 4

A growing proportion are in receipt of Universal Credit

The proportion of new telephone clients in receipt of Universal Credit increased between April (34%) and October (44%). Many clients who had claimed Universal Credit since the pandemic, while grateful for the support, reported how huge the gap was between Universal Credit and their outgoings.

I hate being on Universal Credit, the payment is woeful and does not enable me to pay everything I need to

Number 5

A large proportion of new clients are facing destitution

Coronavirus has resulted in significant hardship, with clients having to juggle bills and debt repayments while continuing to provide for their families on depleted incomes. Coping often meant skipping meals and making do with less.

My record was 10 days without a meal, to ensure the kids could eat meals, I ate bread or 11p noodles

Want more information?

For further demographic and household debt information, please read the full report.

Download the report

Read our blogpost about the research.

Or email us to discuss our coronavirus personal debt statistics and other debt research across the UK.