Financial Inclusion Monitor 2022

The University of Birmingham has been monitoring financial inclusion in Britain since 2013. This website provides key findings, selected charts and a link to the full downloadable report. The report authors are Stephen McKayKaren Rowlingson and Adele Atkinson.

Download the Financial Inclusion: Annual Monitoring Report 2022 [pdf]

Download the Results from the Financial Inclusion survey of adults in Great Britain [pdf]

CHASM and University of Birmingham logo

Key findings

  • Negative growth. Following a ‘post-Covid’ bounce-back in GDP, growth has stagnated and, indeed, started to fall in 2022
  • Unemployment falls, zero hours contracts increase. 1.3m people unemployed in Q2 2022.  Zero hours contracts have increased to over 1m
  • Benefits crash in value. Means-tested benefits for those out of work are worth less relative to Minimum Income Standards than at any time in the last decade
  • Half a million people with no access to banking in 2020/21
  • Borrowing increased in 2021 while savings rate fell
  • 79% workers have pensions. Record high in number of workers with private pensions in 2020 but contribution levels can be low
  • Inflation in double figures. After falling to near zero in 2021, inflation reached double figures in 2022 causing a cost-of-living crisis
  • Interest rates at decade high. Bank of England Base Rate reached 3% in November 2022 causing mortgage payments to rise
  • Over 2 million emergency food parcels provided by the Trussell Trust in 2021/22
  • One in six finding it difficult to manage. October Ipsos survey 
  • £45,000 student debt. Being the average Student Loan Company balance for those who finished their courses in 2021.
  • Record number of IVAs. Number of Individual Voluntary Arrangements for insolvency reached record high at over 80,000 in 2021

Selected findings

The Economy

We have seen continued dramatic economic change in the last year, caused by a range of factors including our emergence from the pandemic, the impact of Brexit and the war in Ukraine but also by the changes announced in the UK Government’s ‘mini budget’ of September 2022. 

The labour market

  • Despite an increase during the Covid crisis, unemployment has fallen again and is now lower than at any time in well over a decade
  • ‘Underemployment’ rose during the Covid crisis but has fallen again and is now lower than it has been for over a decade.
  • Full-time employment has increased dramatically over the last decade but full-time self-employment and part-time employment decreased significantly during Covid.  Part-time employment appears to be increasing again in the last year however.
  • The number of people on zero hours contracts has fluctuated in recent years but reached over 1 million in the first quarter of 2022 – around double the figure a decade ago. 


Maintaining an adequate income is essential to achieving financial security and inclusion. For those in paid work, however, the last year has seen a marked drop in the levels of real weekly pay as a result of rising inflation. 

 Subjective financial wellbeing

  • There were clear signs of strain on people’s finances, with 16% finding things either quite or very difficult, and 25% ‘just getting by’ in 2022.
  • Some groups have fared worse than others including those describing themselves as ‘Gypsy or Irish traveller’, ‘African’, ‘Caribbean’ or ‘Arab’, from the list of options with which they were presented. Similarly, respondents who identified as ’Pakistani’ or ‘Bangladeshi’ also reported had high levels of financial difficulty.
  • Consumer confidence is lower than at any time since records began in the 1970s.


Borrowing can help people to smooth income and expenditure and meet one-off expenses where they do not have savings. However, those on the lowest incomes are often charged the highest rates for borrowing, as they are considered to be at higher risk of default, and they may also be using credit to pay for essentials because of low or fluctuating income, potentially creating a spiralling debt problem. 

A survey by Stepchange in 2021 suggests that 4.4 million people are struggling to keep up with household bills and credit commitments and had borrowed £13 billion to pay bills and make it through to payday (around £3,000 per person). 

The survey also suggested that using credit to pay for essentials caused harm, making things worse for people financially and in other ways.  Three quarters (71%) of those using credit as a safety net reported a negative impact on their health, relationships or ability to work, five times the proportion of others who hold credit products (15%).

An infographic showing how financial difficulty has affected them since September 2021. 81% says it has affected their health, 54% say it has affected their relationships and 37% say it has affected their work

Where are we now?

New data collected during a period when the ‘cost of living crisis’ was a key issue (from 28 September to 4 October 2022), shows us that many participants have already been cutting back on their purchases over the past 12 months, and many more are planning to do so in the next 12 months.