Unless you had your head buried in a really good book, you may have seen or heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, give his traditional Autumn Statement this week; a mid-year assessment of the state of the current economy and the Government’s strategy on future economic policy.
In it, Mr Osborne spoke of the current strength of the UK economy and how economic growth was outpacing the majority of developed nations in the world, especially in Scotland and the North of England where there are more jobs being created than anywhere else in the UK.
The slightly more optimistic news is that, as we approach Christmas and one of the most demanding seasons on our finances, we may be starting to see the economic growth have a positive, however moderate, impact on our own personal finances.
The latest findings from the Scottish Friendly ‘Disposable Income Index’, which was launched at the start of the year and has been tracking the amount of money that people have left over each month after bills and essentials have been paid for, has found that, across the UK disposable incomes have risen by 2.3 per cent in the last three months. The survey shows people now have an average of 10.5 per cent of their salary left over each month, up from five per cent at the start of the year. This equates to an average disposable income of £278 a month.
Indeed, reflecting the Chancellor’s statement this week, we also found in the report that those people in the UK with the highest level of disposable income as a ratio of their salary live in the North West and have 11.8 per cent of their earnings as disposable income. This was followed closely by people in the East Midlands and in Scotland where residents have 11.3 per cent and 10.8 per cent disposable income respectively.
That said, there was a small concern that raised its head in the latest report. Despite the rise in disposable income, the number of people regularly putting money aside in savings each month saw a slight drop, falling by two per cent compared to the same period three months ago.
Now, it’s natural that we see a slight dip in savings in the run up to the festive season; however, it’s also important that if we’re fortunate enough to have extra money left over, we should squirrel it away in case it is needed in the future.
So while we hope you let your hair down over the next few weeks and enjoy the festivities, don’t forget to consider building your savings and investment reserves. Then after Christmas let’s hope it becomes one of all our New Year’s resolutions to do all we can to get back into the savings habit!