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Health, happiness and wealth of a nation

Overall wellbeing still not close to being back to levels seen pre-COVID

While there may be a sense that after two long years the worst of the pandemic is behind us, the nation’s health, wealth and happiness are still not close to being back to levels seen pre-COVID. In fact, our happiness is at a record low, mental health issues remain high and the energy crisis, inflation and the conflict in Ukraine point at another chapter of uncertainty, according to new figures [Note 1].

While the UK’s personal wealth has bounced back to its highest levels since before the pandemic began, our happiness and health have plummeted.

The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine, is having a devastating effect on the overall wellbeing of many people living in the UK.

Negative impact

The figures show that over half of all Britons (51%) think the COVID pandemic had a negative impact on their access to healthcare, rising to 57% of women and 62% of those aged 55 and over. Added to this, almost one in two people (45%) believe the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health (10%

’very negative’), rising to 50% of women and younger people.

But it is not just COVID that has impacted on mental health, the rising cost-of-living crisis has also been a major factor. 28% of adults stated it was the number one cause of their mental health issues. The figures also highlight that 28% of Britons now feel happier than last year, but 46% of Britons said they still felt less happy.

Biggest challenges

Over a quarter (28%) had saved money in the last year, averaging £276 per month. One in ten (10%) of all people have paid off some debts in the last 12 months, averaging £491 per month. However, 11% have taken out new debts in the form of credit cards, loans etc, averaging £403 per month.

The cost-of-living crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing many families in the UK today. The rising cost of everyday essentials, such as food and housing, is putting enormous pressure on household budgets.

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP SOMEONE AFFECTED BY THE COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS?There is certainly no magic wand that will end the cost-of-living crisis. But there are some cost-free strategies that could make a worthwhile difference to your household budget’s bottom line.

Here are some practical suggestions:

  • Check your entitlement to benefits and tax credits. There may be financial help available that you are not aware of.

  • Try to cut back on non-essential spending. Take a close look at your budget and see where you can make savings.

  • Shop around for the best deals on essentials such as food, utility bills and insurance.

  • If you are struggling to pay your bills, speak to your creditors and try to agree a repayment plan.

  • Seek advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice or StepChange if you are struggling with debt.

Seek available support

Households will barely need reminding about the bills that have gone up in recent months. According to a recent report from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) [Note 2], many financially struggling households are failing to seek available support due to lack of understanding or feelings of embarrassment.

And for retired people, the impact of these rising costs is significant as most are on a fixed income and have little opportunity to change their financial situation.

Contact the company in question and explain your situation

Struggling to make ends meet when it comes to the everyday cost of living is nothing new for vast swathes of the population. If you are falling behind with household bills or repayments on debts, it’s crucial to contact the company in question and explain your situation. It may agree to reduce your payments for an agreed period of time, and/or set up a payment plan.

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