A third of adults in Bedford do not expect to save money over the next year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey, which asked people if they think they will be able to put aside cash in the next 12 months, considering the general economic outlook.
In Bedford, 35 per cent of those aged 16 and over said they will not be able to do so – slightly higher than the average of 31 per cent across England and Wales.
The largest proportion of people in Bedford (50 per cent) thought they would be able to save over the next year – broadly in line with the England and Wales average of 49 per cent – while a further 14 per cent said they didn’t know.
The results of the poll, carried out between January 7 and March 28, were based on responses from 180 people in the area.
The ONS carried out the research to understand more about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s happiness.
It found that adults who do not expect to be able to save over the next year are much more likely to report being less happy than those who do.
People were also asked to rate how happy they felt the day before they were surveyed on a scale from zero – meaning “not happy at all” – to 10, signifying “completely happy”.
In Bedford, the average score was 6.3, compared to 6.6 across England and Wales.
"It is concerning that so many of us are unable to save any money in the near future,” said Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs at anti-poverty charity Turn2us.
“Savings can give people financial security and offer vital protection against life's unexpected costs.
"We urge the Government to take action to help increase people's incomes, to stop the debt crisis that is round the corner, and the mental health anguish that will follow.”
She said this must include maintaining the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, which was put in place to help struggling households during the pandemic but is due to end in September.
Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the charity Money Advice Trust, said the vast majority of people who contact its National Debtline for support have no savings to fall back on.
She added: “Our research shows that among people who’ve fallen into financial difficulty due to Covid-19, 25 per cent% report a decline in their mental health.”
Ms Tully said anyone worried about their finances should seek free, confidential debt advice.
A government spokesman said: “Work remains the best route towards prosperity and that’s why we’re focusing on supporting people back into employment through our comprehensive Plan for Jobs, following our action to raise the living wage and help people keep more of what they earn.
“The Government has always been clear the Universal Credit uplift was a temporary measure to help those most impacted by the economic shock of the pandemic.”