Posted on 27th September 2022

New research from mutual life, pensions and investment provider, Royal London, reveals that millions of UK workers have had to turn to second or multiple jobs in the face of soaring living costs, while others are working extremely long hours.

The findings reveal that 5.2 million workers have taken on an additional job to help pay for the increased cost of living and another 10 million plan to, in response to rising costs.

Royal London’s second Cost of Living survey, of 4,000 adults, also shows that many UK employees are already working extremely long hours, with over a quarter (28%) of full time workers working beyond the recommended maximum 48 hours a week. Of those, a fifth (19%) state they are working over 56 hours every week, the equivalent of more than 11 hours a day over a five-day working week.

Overall, only one in ten (13%) UK adults are confident they’ll be able to cope financially with rising costs. And despite working multiple jobs or very long hours, many are still struggling to bring in enough money to pay for increased living costs. Two fifths (42%) of those working the longest hours say they are either unable to or finding it much harder to cover basic costs.

Our findings come at a time when, according to the ONS, pay awards have failed to match soaring inflation and have led to the fastest fall in the real value of pay on record.

Four in five (81%) people in the UK have already made changes to help pay for the rise in prices, but the impact on people’s budgets means many adults are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly a third (31%) of people have to borrow or go overdrawn before they reach pay day. Many have already cut back and reduced their spending, but their outgoings are overtaking their income, resulting in them turning to various types of borrowing, such as credit cards and unplanned overdrafts.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of adults are planning on using their savings to help cover increases in the cost of living, but many admit they have little or no financial cushion to fall back on. Almost a fifth (17%) of people said that they could only fund an unexpected expense of up to £100 from either their income or savings.

Rising costs aren’t just impacting finances, over three fifths (64%) say they’re overwhelmed and feeling more anxious (35%), more stressed (34%), have a lower mood than usual (29%) or they are having trouble sleeping (22%).

Interestingly there’s a notable difference between the sexes, with more women than men affected emotionally by the crisis. While over one in four men (27%) describe themselves as more anxious than usual as a result of increasing costs, this rises to over four in ten for women (42%). Women are also more likely to report feeling more stressed than usual (40% v 28% of men). And while 35% of people describe themselves as extremely worried about energy bills, far fewer men than women (28% compared to 41%) were in this category. However, women are more likely than men to have made cutbacks as a result of the increased cost of living, and are less likely than men to describe themselves as in financial crisis.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London, said:

“We know that many households started reining in their spending six months ago as costs first started to rise, but with bills continuing to climb, it could be an incredibly tough winter ahead. While many have resorted to making significant spending adjustments, others, despite working all the hours they can, just can’t keep their heads above water.

“While the Government’s energy price freeze announcement will have brought relief, escalating costs across the board are deeply worrying, with only one in ten adults confident they’ll be able to cope financially.

“It’s not just the impact on people’s finances, rising costs are having a detrimental emotional impact, with over three-fifths saying they are suffering from emotional stress.”

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