UK workers are feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, with the vast majority of people still saving as little as they did in 2022, according to new research by UK health and protection insurer The Exeter. Their 2023 Health & Financial Fears report reveals that over a third of UK workers (38%) – equal to 12 million people1 – are saving less than £100 per month in 2023, similar to the 39% who reported saving the same amount in 2022.
The report also highlights the rapidly growing divide between the saving power of men and women. In 2023, male workers saved an average 30% more than in 2022, whereas females only increased their savings by 7% over the same period. This disparity could be the result of the UK’s ongoing gender pay gap, which according to the most recent ONS data stood at 8.3% in April 2022.
Women more susceptible to poor mental health in cost-of-living crisis squeeze
According to The Exeter’s findings, women are more likely than men to experience adverse mental health effects because of the ongoing squeeze on incomes. More than eight out of ten women (81%) are worried about the spiralling cost-of-living, compared to a smaller proportion of men (69%). When the added pressures of accessing health services are taken into consideration, 32% of women said that their mental health had been impacted in the last 12 months, compared to 27% of men.
Despite financial worries, women are less likely to consider insurance cover
Although women are increasingly concerned about the cost-of-living crisis, they are less likely than men to access insurance products that could protect their incomes in the event they are unable to work due to an accident or long-term illness.
In 2023, just 11% of women hold or are currently applying for an income protection policy compared to the 16% of men who are doing so.
The Exeter surveyed more 2,000 employed UK adults aged over 18 for the research.
Jamie Page, Head of Protection Distribution at The Exeter said:
"From earnings and savings to pensions and insurance, the word “gap” appears too often when comparing the financial circumstances of men and women. Our research suggests that the differences that exist are contributing to women being more profoundly affected by the cost-of-living crisis than their male colleagues, something that shouldn’t be happening.
When it comes to protecting our incomes against the financial impact of illness or injury the need is clear - irrespective of gender. Products such as income protection may seem like an added expense in the current climate, but having a robust safety net in place can be a lifeline should you be unable to work.”
Emma Thomson, Head of Protection Development at Sesame Bankhall Group and Chair of the Women in Protection Network added:
“While it is important to recognise that many people are struggling, it is equally important to acknowledge that women and their finances are more impacted by the current cost-of-living crisis. In a time where money is tight, this gender savings gap is depleting the reserves of the UK’s female workforce and hampering their efforts to plan for their future or safeguard their finances against illness.
It is so important that protection advisers and providers work together to ensure women can access quality protection during one of the most challenging personal finance periods in modern history. Women should not feel alone during this crisis, and we must ensure they benefit from the financial reassurance and wider support that we can provide as an industry.”
Notes to Editors
1. ONS, Number of people in employment (aged 16 and over, seasonally adjusted), August 2023 www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes
Data in this report was gathered as part of The Exeter's Health and Financial Fears of UK Workers 2023 research, which surveyed 2,000 employed adults aged over 18 in the UK between the 1st and 5th June 2023. For some charts, respondents who replied, ‘Don’t know', 'None of the above' or ‘Prefer not to say’ have been removed to aid clarity, however these percentages are still factored into the final figures.
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About The Exeter
The Exeter is a leading protection and healthcare insurer who have been supporting UK families in the event of ill health or injury since 1888.
Formerly known as the Exeter Friendly Society and Pioneer Friendly Society, The Exeter is a mutual friendly society. This means it is owned by members and run for their benefit, rather than shareholders.
The Exeter is a trading name of Exeter Friendly Society Limited, which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Register number 205309) and is incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992 Register No. 91F with its registered office at Lakeside House, Emperor Way, Exeter, England EX1 3FD.