The arrival of summer hasn’t just meant lighter nights and warmer days, it also seems to have brightened up the nation’s finances. That’s because Scottish Friendly’s latest Disposable Income Index has revealed a 10% increase in the median monthly household disposable income in the last quarter.
However, looking behind the headlines and the small improvement in disposable income (from £905 last quarter to £1,000) has been tempered with the report’s findings that Brits are still concerned about the impact of unexpected bills and external shocks.
It’s certainly not sunshine and roses for people in some regions of the UK like Scotland, Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Wales for here monthly median disposable income has actually fallen this quarter, possibly reflecting issues with the economy, such as job losses, in these regions.
The national improvement in national disposable income over the last quarter has been mostly felt by part-time workers due to the introduction of the national living wage and continued low inflation but this is of scant solace to some groups who continue to find themselves more squeezed than others. Those in work, for instance, continue to find themselves with less disposable income than those in retirement, with the average retiree having a higher monthly disposable income of £1,585.
This disparity in favour of the older generation is – surprise, surprise – mainly due to the lower level of costs associated with housing that retirees experience as many of them have paid off their mortgage while younger generations have heavy mortgages to finance. Younger generations have seen slower pay growth recently while older people are working longer and have relatively generous work related pension provisions.
Underlining the less than rosy state of the nation’s finances, once again, our Disposable Income Index has shown that many households are pessimistic about their financial prospects and are worried about how they will deal with unexpected financial or economic shocks like a broken down car or washing machine.
Adding fuel to the fire of financial fear is the looming EU Referendum. Half of households surveyed are concerned about the vote and a further 45% are anxious about how leaving the EU would affect their family financially.
All in all, then, this quarter’s Disposable Income Index is a particularly interesting one. When our next survey is published, two months will have elapsed since the conclusion of the EU Referendum. What will the result of this be on the UK economy, the state of our finances and our hopes and fears for the future?
A fascinating time lies ahead.