The UK’s personal wealth has bounced back to its highest levels since before the pandemic began, but our happiness and health have plummeted, according to new figures that track the interplay between our emotional and financial sentiments.
Unsurprisingly, the health, wealth and happiness of the UK population reached their lowest levels in a decade in the second quarter of 2020, as the events of the last year provided the most dramatic shifts in sentiment since the record lows of the financial crisis.
With a dramatic split between those who are financially better off since the pandemic and the quarter of people who are worse off, the last year has prompted more than half the UK population to re-evaluate their financial affairs.
Almost a third of Britons already earning more than £50,000 have overhauled their savings, according to the Health, Wealth and Happiness (HWH) Index, produced by think tank the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) and insurance broker LifeSearch, whose chief marketing officer described the findings as “loaded” and “emotive”.
That’s because while our financial confidence returned strongly in the first three months of this year, our health and mental health – despite having an intimate relationship with our financial circumstances – are still dropping.
“There is reason for optimism looking forward,” assures Nina Skero, chief executive for the CEBR.
“Given the continuing vaccine rollout and roadmap for easing restrictions, CEBR anticipates a return to economic growth, with quarterly GDP expansion of 4.5 per cent and 4.2 per cent expected for Q2 and Q3 respectively. The combination of these factors is set to drive improvements in health, wealth, and happiness.
“Nevertheless, there remain considerable downside risks. One of the more significant near-term developments will be the upcoming tapering of the furlough scheme, which is set to be fully withdrawn at the end of September. CEBR expects this to be accompanied by an uptick in redundancies, resulting in a peak unemployment rate of 6.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2021, and thus putting some pressure on individuals’ livelihoods.”