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Two million cash-strapped Brits cancel Christmas due to financial worries

It may be time to deck the halls with boughs of holly but, for millions of people, the season is anything but jolly.

New YouGov research figures, released today, show that 2 million (2,046,545) UK adults will not be celebrating or spending money this Christmas because of their finances. And the affordability of Christmas is also in the spotlight for millions of others, with a fifth (21%) of the UK using credit to fund their seasonal celebrations; by going into their overdraft, using a credit card, loan or payday lender.

The data is revealed as part of a YouGov study – commissioned by employee benefit loan provider SalaryFinance – into the debt demographics of Britain and the consequences badly managed finances can have.

Over half of respondents (54%) say that financial worries have impacted their life:


  • A quarter (23%) have stopped socialising like they used to
  • One in six (17%) no longer take holidays as much
  • One in seven (15%) have been depressed
  • One in ten (10%) have experienced relationship strain or divorce.

Interestingly, although the figures suggest that men are more likely to carry debt, excluding mortgages, than women (36% of men have £1,000 of debt or more compared to 28% of women) financial worries seem to affect women more, with only 44% claiming financial worries have never impacted their life, to men’s 54%.  In fact, over half (51%) of those of us working carry some form of debt – not including mortgages – and almost half of workers (47%) are in debt  with £30,000 or less.

The situation is compounded by a worrying lack of awareness as to how much we are paying back: almost a quarter (24%) of those with outstanding debt have no idea what the highest interest rate they are paying on of their debts is, and one in six UK adults (16%) only occasionally or don’t check their bank balance at all.

Of even more concern is the precarious situation many low earners find themselves in, with more than a third (37%) of those earning between £10,000 – £15,000 carrying a debt of £1000 or more of their annual gross personal income. Allowing for tax and national insurance, the percentage of debt – compared to their take home pay is considerably higher.

Other key findings:

  • Those who fall into the age range 25 to 34 are the most likely to carry any debt (54%).
  • The debt gains with age, as 34% of 18-24s have debts of £1000 or more, rising to 37% of 25-34 year olds, at age 35-44 it’s 44%, and then drops down to 35% of 45 to 54 year olds and 22% after age 55+. 
  • A retirement nest egg is but a dream for many, with nearly one in six (17%) retirees carrying £1000 or more in debt


This lack of attention and control of personal finance is compounding the debt situation in Britain, especially for young adults, and is bleak for those without children, and markedly worse for those with multiple children.

Asesh Sarkar, Co-Founder and CEO at SalaryFinance, said, “SalaryFinance is providing a new and cost effective way for people to stabilise and manage their finances. The need to reduce debt pressure on UK workers is very real and if we can reduce employees financial worries, it will improve their health and social well-being, which in turn improves their productivity.”

For those with children, the strain is worst, with financial worries causing a fifth (20%) to borrow money from friends or family, a figure that increases by half again (29%) for those with 3+ children. Many families have had to make other sacrifices, such as selling their car or rehoming a pet.

The YouGov survey asked consumers to state whether they would be interested in taking a loan via an employer with an annual interest rate of under 8%, a quarter (25%) of UK adults saying they would see it as a valuable benefit while one in ten (12%) were undecided. For those with three or more children in their household the proportion that would see it as a valuable rose to to 43%.