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4.7 million starting New Year feeling unable to cope due to money worries

Findings from National Debtline reveal the financial worries of many households this New Year

Posted January 2, 2024

  • 17.2 million (32%) UK adults expect finances to worsen by end of 2024
  • 24.9 million (47%) heading into 2024 worrying about money
  • One in eight UK adults in debt are scared to open mail due to their finances

4.7 million (9 percent) UK adults are starting the new year very worried and feeling unable to cope because of their finances, according to new research from National Debtline.

Findings from the charity lay bare the impact sustained high prices continues to have on household budgets.  Nearly one in two (47 percent) UK adults, 24.9 million, are worried about their finances heading into 2024, with only 12 million (22 percent) saying they are not at all worried and feeling able to cope.

Based on an Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, the research paints a pessimistic picture for how millions of people are feeling about their financial situation for 2024 – 17.2 million (32 percent) expect their finances to be in a worse state by the end of the year compared to the same time in 2023.

The research also reveals the emotional toll money worries are having on people in debt.  One in eight (13 percent) people in debt say they are scared of opening post or emails because of what they owe, and one in nine (11 percent) feel they have no one to talk to about their situation.

National Debtline is encouraging anyone worried about money this January to make talking to a free debt advice service their New Year’s resolution.

Scared to answer the phone

National Debtline’s findings bring into sharp focus the experience of being in debt:

  • One in eight (12 percent) people in debt are worried when they hear a knock at the door in case it is someone chasing their debt.
  • 12 percent are afraid to speak to their creditors about their debts.
  • And one in ten (10 percent) are scared to answer the phone in case it is about a debt they owe.

Time to talk money

The charity’s research also highlights the feelings of embarrassment and isolation from being in debt.  3.1 million UK adults (23 percent of people in debt), feel embarrassed about their financial situation, with one in six (18 percent) having not told anyone about their debt. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the charity says, 4,289 people visited the National Debtline website.

With four in ten clients that contact the free debt advice charity waiting a year or more before contacting them, National Debtline is urging anyone worrying about money to talk to one of their advisers this New Year.  After speaking to an adviser, nine in ten callers saw their debts reduce or stabilise and seven in ten reported a positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing.

David Cheadle, acting chief executive at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: 

“It’s been a difficult 12 months for millions of people.  High prices continue to have a huge impact on households and heading into 2024 there is more pain to come with energy prices rising once again.

“As our findings show, starting the new year with debts you are struggling to repay can feel overwhelming and it is hard to know where to turn.

“We are encouraging anyone worried about their finances to make speaking to National Debtline, or another free debt advice service, their New Year’s resolution.  Talking to one of our experts can take a huge weight off your shoulders at the start of the year.

“Government intervention, however, is still needed to address the worrying impact rising arrears will continue to have on household finances.  With energy prices increasing and energy debt soaring, the introduction of a Help to Repay Scheme is more pressing than ever, alongside an extension to the Household Support fund, which provides vital support at a local level.”

National Debtline provides free, independent debt advice on 0808 808 4000 and at 

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