9m Brits have no savings to fall back on

Empty savings

The number of Brits with no nest egg to fall back on has risen year-on-year from eight million to more than nine million, according to a new report.

One in five people (19%) have no savings at all and 15% don't even know how much savings they have, the 2014 Scottish Widows Savings Report revealed.

On a positive note, for those who are managing to save, the average amount they put away went up to  £10,208 in 2013 - a rise of £175 from the previous year.

However, the total number of people who have managed to save something has dropped from 14.8 million to 14.4 million and 54% of those surveyed said they were saving less than they did two years ago.

Family pressures have had a negative effect on the amount people can save, with people lending money to family members. Some 41% of the 5,000-plus people who took part in the survey said they had loaned ‘a substantial amount' of money to their family.

A quarter of people had lent money to their children. Common reasons for helping out offspring were to cover living expenses (35%), to put money towards a house deposit (34%) or to pay off debt (28%).

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The study found lending to family members had a serious effect on parents' and grandparents' finances. A quarter of all parents and grandparents said they were managing to save less because they had lent money to family members, with 17% saying they had to cut back on daily living costs because of family lending. The average amount children borrow was £14,789.

Unsurprisingly, it is the sandwich generation who suffer the most financial pressure, with those in the middle-age bracket less likely to save anything at all. One in four 35-44 year olds have no savings at all and only 34% said they were currently saving at the moment. A third of this age group said they would be inclined to save more if they weren't currently in debt - in the last three months, the average amount of debt carried over each month is £5,935 for this age group.

Those aged 45 to 54 were in a similar position, with 35% saying they couldn't save at the moment and 30% saying they couldn't save because of debt - in the last three months, they carried over an average £5,719 of debt each month.

Adjudt your priorities

David Lascelles, savings expert at Scottish Widows, said: "The widening gap in fortunes between savers and non-savers highlights the impact that getting on the path to saving can have, even if it is just by putting aside a small amount every month.

He added that people need to be encouraged "to adjust their priorities so they are thinking about protecting themselves for the future, and not just for the here and now".

"Having a plan for the future can make the present feel less stressful as it provides you with the knowledge that you have a helpful buffer for any unexpected events that may come your way," he added.

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