People in the North East are more savvy than most when it comes to looking after their money – but there’s still room for the region to get a better handle on its personal finances.
That’s the outcome of new research carried out by Newcastle Building Society to mark the opening of its two new advice centres in Newcastle city centre.
According to the survey of 2,000 British adults, fewer than a third (31%) of the UK population knows exactly how much income tax they pay, while just over two-thirds (68%) knows precisely how much they earn – but when it comes to the North East, these figures rise to 38% and 71% respectively.
People in the region are also more likely to be aware of how much they’re paying into a pension every month than the national average (24% versus 17%), and that tax relief is available on the pension contributions they make (56% versus 54%).
However, when it comes to personal spending, the region revealed a more relaxed side to keeping track of the pounds and pence, with the regional figures for knowing how much they spend on food (40% versus 50%) and knowing how many bills you have to pay in total (35% versus 41%) being lower than the national average.
Steve Urwin, managing director sales and marketing at Newcastle Building Society, says: “The research discovered that in the first instance, most people – eight in ten – think they have a good understanding of their current financial position.
“But when you dig deeper and ask those same people about the detail around their financial affairs, from what they earn to what they pay on things like mortgages, rent, and other bills, they’re less certain.
“Pensions is an area that baffles many, with a high proportion of people in the region who have a pension not being clear on how much they pay in, or even that there are tax benefits in doing so.”
The NBS research also found that, across the UK, two thirds of people can’t say accurately how much is in their bank account, while 64 per cent aren’t sure of the precise amount they owe on their credit cards.
While more than a third of people in the UK say they want to get a better hold on their finances, 32 per cent also say they find talking about money is awkward, uncomfortable, or confusing.
And when it comes to having a money conversation, 56 percent of people in the North East choose to speak to either their parents or siblings, compared with 43 per cent nationally.
Steve Urwin continues: “It’s good to talk about money. Having a conversation can be an important first step in getting to grips with our finances. But when it comes to planning for the future and in making our hard earned money work harder for us, taking advice from a professional adviser gives you access to specialist knowledge from people who are trained and qualified to give this.”
Significantly, fewer of those in the North East described themselves as ‘financially sorted’ (eight per cent vs 13 per cent for the UK as a whole).
And there are nearly four per cent more self-confessed financial ostriches in the region. Twelve per cent of North Easterners describe their attitude to money as ‘I keep my head in the sand and would rather not know,’ as opposed to eight per cent for the UK as a whole.
Newcastle Building Society is launching two purpose built Advice Centres in Newcastle that will combine extended, convenient opening hours with face to face advice, bringing mortgage, pensions, investment and protection advice under one roof.
Steve Urwin concludes: “Financial planning is too important to be left to chance. Professional advisers who can simplify the complex and confusing, who can make financial planning accessible, and help you to understand your options, should be available to everyone.
“We’re committed to helping the people of the North East feel more comfortable with money.”
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