More than half of British adults believe that the average family's standard of living has declined since the start of the credit crunch in 2007, according to a survey from Scottish Provident.
On the other hand, the survey says that just one in seven (15 per cent) feels that living standards have improved during that same period.
It also found that 36 per cent of Britons predict that their own standard of living will decline by 2013, while only 24 per cent expect there to be an increase in their living standards.
Such pessimism seems even more acute with older people, many of whom have to rely on paltry returns from savings to make ends meet. Almost half (45 per cent) of the over-55s believe that their standard of living will decline over the next three years – compared with just 22 per cent of those aged 18 to 34.
"The last few years have hit many Britons hard," said Susan Barclay of Scottish Provident. She added that, with the coalition's austerity measures taking effect: "It has never been more critical for individuals to ensure they have built up an adequate financial safety net to help combat any decline in living standards."