The great savings heist:

Press release - 24th September 2014

£912 million of savings drawn-down each month to pay for monthly expenses

  • Lower disposable incomes leave nearly one in three people regularly dipping into their savings to pay for monthly outgoings
  • UK disposable income at eight per cent of take home salary, five per cent higher than six months ago
  • Northern Ireland and London among the regions with the lowest disposable income

Low levels of disposable income has led to nearly one in three adults over 18 years in the UK (31 per cent) regularly dipping into their savings each month to help pay for monthly outgoings.

According to the latest findings from the Scottish Friendly ‘Disposable Income Index’, 9.12 million people regularly take out on average £100 from their savings each month to help pay for everyday expenses – this means that during this month alone, £912 million could be withdrawn from the nation’s savings to help make ends meet.(1)

The quarterly index, which looks at the saving and spending habits of people across the UK, shows that on average, people in the UK are left with just eight per cent of their monthly salary as disposable income. This is up by five per cent from six months ago, but the latest report suggests that for many, it is still not enough to ensure a positive personal budget.(2)

On average, people in the UK have just £205 left over each month after bills and essentials have been paid for, with 38 per cent of people saying that they have less than £100 in disposable income left over each month.

Despite this, the number of people putting aside money each month remains level at around 60 per cent, although the amount being put aside by these savers has fallen by 11 per cent, from £287 a month on average to £255.

Neil Lovatt, product director at Scottish Friendly, comments:
"The latest index indicates that while the willingness to save is still present among the majority of people in the UK, the capacity to save is on the decline. As the monthly levels of disposable income have remained relatively stable, this suggests that some people in the UK are getting squeezed elsewhere."

"Housing remains the biggest expense for most, so, when rent or mortgage payments go up, disposable incomes naturally reduce. For example, demand for rental properties across the UK increased by around seven per cent since June, while supply fell.(3) This has helped squeeze personal budgets leaving many to dig into their savings to make ends meet."

"The worry is that things are set to get worse, as winter approaches people have to find additional funds to cover rising fuel costs and extra spending money for the festive season. One in four people [26 per cent] already feel that their financial situation will worsen over the next three months and with household budgets already at full stretch, it could be a very difficult season for many."

Regionally, the South West and Wales benefit from the highest levels of disposable income, having 9.2 per cent of their net income left over each month, while people in Northern Ireland have the lowest levels of disposable income, with each region taking home just 6.4 per cent.

Despite being the highest average earners in the country, those living in London have among the lowest disposable income, with just 6.9 per cent of their monthly salary left over each month.

Neil Lovatt, product director at Scottish Friendly, comments:
"People in London are often envied for their larger than average salaries, but with rising property and rental prices in the capital and a high cost of living, those in London are, relatively speaking, often among the worse off in the country."

Regional variations in disposable income:

Region of the UK Per cent of salary attributed to disposable income Average monthly take home salary (after tax) Average disposable income
South West 9.2 per cent £2,137 £197
Wales 9.2 per cent £2,109 £196
North West 9.1 per cent £2,251 £205
West Midlands 8.8 per cent £2,304 £203
Yorkshire & Humberside 8.7 per cent £2,345 £206
North East 8.7 per cent £2,252 £197
East Midlands 8.3 per cent £2,580 £215
Scotland 8.0 per cent £2,614 £211
South East 7.7 per cent £2,560 £199
London 6.9 per cent £3,409 £236
Northern Ireland 6.5 per cent £2,275 £149


1. Research conducted by OnePoll. 2,000 adults in the UK were surveyed between 01 and 05 September, 2014

2. Research conducted by OnePoll. 2000 adults in the UK were surveyed between 2nd and 9th June, 2014.

3. Research conducted by national network of estate agents, (

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