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Furloughed workers three times more likely to default on payments – Which? survey

  • 03/08/2020
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Furloughed workers three times more likely to default on payments – Which? survey
Furloughed workers are three times more likely to have defaulted on at least one payment in the last month, research from Which? has revealed.


The survey of 2,129 consumers found 13 per cent of those who were furloughed, put on enforced leave or given reduced hours due to the pandemic reported having defaulting on a payment compared to four per cent of those who were still working as normal. 

Of the furloughed respondents who were renting or holding a mortgage, five per cent had defaulted on housing payment. 

Some seven per cent of this group defaulted on a bill, and six per cent had defaulted on a loan or credit card payment.  

The default rates for bills, as well as loans and credit cards, are more than double that of those who are still working as normal. 

This survey comes as the Financial Conduct Authority called on lenders and firms to consult on what additional support might be needed once the job retention scheme and pandemic-related mortgage holidays end. 


Changes to spending 

The research also showed that 60 per cent of those furloughed, put on enforced leave or given reduced hours made one or more changes to their spending patterns in the last month compared to 42 per cent of those working as usual. 

Some 34 per cent cut back on essential spending, 31 per cent have taken money from their savings and 14 per cent have used an overdraft.  

The results indicated that furloughed workers were taking more steps to manage their finances compared to those who were still working normally. 

Which? said this showed there was a disparity between the two groups which could widen further once government support is withdrawn. 

Richard Pigginhead of external affairs and campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite extensive action being taken by the government and the banking industry, it’s very worrying that people currently on the furlough scheme have reported experiencing much higher levels of financial difficulty than those who are working as normal. 

“With just a couple of months until the scheme comes to an end, there is real concern that this gap could widen even further.  

He added: “The FCA is right to take steps to consider the additional support required and the industry will also have to ensure consumers are provided with the help they need if they are in financial difficulty.” 

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