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The State of Financial Wellbeing: The Cost of Living Report 2022

Evidence type: Insight i


In early 2022, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) set out its delivery plans for its UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing. While setting out National Goals against five Agenda’s for Change (children’s financial education, savings, credit use, debt advice and retirement/later life planning, the Strategy includes the workplace as one of its cross-cutting themes. Meanwhile, a cost-of-living crisis has hit the UK and, with inflation forecast to reach 11% by the end of 2022, UK employees face – in real terms – a significant wage decrease.

Wagestream is a financial wellbeing platform providing fair financial services for the support of frontline workers. This report is part of the State of Wellbeing programme developed by Wagestream to support the financial wellbeing of the UK population by building insight through research.

The study

This report builds on Wagestream’sState of Wellbeing programme’s flagship report (UK Workplace Report 2022) by exploring employees’ financial wellbeing from the perspective of the cost of living, how employers have responded to the cost-of-living crisis and how this has impacted their employees. The study was conducted by Wagestream, with contributions from CogCo, MaPS and the Work Foundation, to understand what creates financial wellbeing in the workplace, what the barriers to it are and how organisations can work collectively to support it better.

The study describes the results of analysis of data from three Wagestream employee and employer surveys:

  • a survey of 2,500 UK employees and 300 senior human resources professionals in the UK from quarter 2 (Q2) 2022;
  • a survey of 5,000 UK employees and 600 senior human resources professionals in the UK from Q4 2021; and
  • a survey of 2,000 adults from the UK population from Q3 2021.

Key findings

  • Impacts of the cost-of-living crisis on UK employees: 96% of all UK employees have seen their living costs rise and 70% were worried more about money now (in Q2, 2022).
    • 52% said money was worrying them most about the next three months, up from 40% in Q4 2021.
    • 70% had reduced their spending.
    • 50% had used savings to make ends meet and spent an average of 4.2 days extra worrying each month.
  • The role of employers: 30% of employees say their employer cares about their financial health, a decrease from 52% in November 2021. Of those impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, 76% had not told their employer.
    • 71% of employers said rising costs had made them more aware of staff financial wellbeing, but they underestimated the true impacts.
    • 81% of employers said they had introduced new financial support in the last three months, but only 19% of employees said employers had done so and 52% of employees want more employer support.
  • Recommendations: Employers need to communicate the available support to employees better, reduce the stigmas around money and support employees’ saving behaviour.

Points to consider

  • Methodological strengths/weaknesses: Although the headline sample sizes are reasonably large, no details are given about the survey or sampling methodologies or response rates. This makes it difficult to assess the reliability or representativeness of the findings.
    • Some of the findings are reported on subsamples which will be much smaller than the headline sample sizes (and therefore will carry higher sampling error).
    • While comparatively small nominal differences are reported as statistical differences, it is not clear if statistical significance testing has been undertaken. Trend data are nonetheless consistent with the report’s inferences about change over time.
  • Relevance: This report is relevant to all stakeholders, academics and policymakers with an interest in pensions and retirement planning.
  • Generalisability/transferability: Depending on the survey methodology and sample controls employed, the results might not be generalisable to all UK employees.
    • Depending on the survey methodology and sample controls employed, the results might not be generalisable to all UK employees.

Key info

Client group
Year of publication
United Kingdom
Contact information

Wagestream, 35 Grease Street, London, W1T 1QY, [email protected], www.wagestream.com