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Most employees feel they are financially better off now than at the start of the pandemic, finds new MSE poll

More than two in three employees in full-time or part-time work say they're financially better off now than at the start of the coronavirus pandemic – but only one in three of those who are self-employed feel the same, a new poll has found. 

Nearly 13,000 people voted in the poll, which ran between 20 and 27 July 2021, and asked respondents if they felt their overall finances had improved or worsened since March 2020, taking into account debt, savings, assets, work prospects and more.

Overall, 58% of those who voted said they were 'substantially' or 'a bit' better off, 31% said they were worse off, while 11% said they'd seen little or no change to their finances. But there were big differences in responses based on employment status – see the full results below.

While not a representative sample of the UK population, the poll offers a snapshot of how people are feeling about their financial situation as Coronavirus-related restrictions are eased around the UK. If you're struggling, see our Coronavirus Universal Credit and Benefits Help and our Self-Employed and Small Ltd Company Help guides. 

Limited company directors and the unemployed are among those who feel they've been hit hardest – while employees mostly say they're better off

The table below lists the results of the poll broken down by employment status. The results show:

  • Employees appear to have fared best overall. 69% of those working full-time or part-time said they feel they're better off – more than any other group. However, that figure drops to just 36% when looking only at employees on zero-hours contracts, suggesting the pandemic has impacted different types of workers in different ways.

  • Limited company directors say they have struggled. Just 13% of limited company directors say they're better off than they were in March 2020, with more than three in four (76%) saying they're much worse off. Throughout the pandemic, and our founder Martin Lewis have called for more help for groups excluded from coronavirus financial support, though Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in an interview with Martin in March that when it comes to extra help for limited company directors, the door is "firmly shut". 

  • The unemployed also say they were hit hard. 13% said they were better off, but more than two thirds (69%) feel they're now substantially worse off. 

If your situation has worsened and you're not sure where to start, see our Budgeting & Debt Help guides.

MSE Poll: How do you perceive your finances have changed since March 2020?

Employment status (number of responses) 'Substantially better off' 'A bit better off' 'Little or no change' 'A bit worse off' 'Substantially worse off'
Employed full time (5,631) 35% 37% 10% 9% 9%
Employed part time (1,295) 24% 34% 13% 14% 15%
Employed on zero-hours contract (91) 13% 23% 11% 13% 40%
Self-employed (978) 15% 19% 6% 17% 44%
Limited company director (1,106) 6% 7% 4% 8% 76%
PAYE freelancer (53) 17% 21% 6% 15% 42%
Retired (3,054) 28% 36% 19% 10% 7%
Homemaker / carer (172) 13% 27% 22% 17% 22%
Student (38) 29% 29% 16% 5% 21%
Unemployed (237) 3% 10% 6% 12% 69%
Other (200) 12% 15% 12% 16% 47%

For breakdowns based on age and housing situation, see our July 2021 poll results.

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