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Middle-aged hit hardest by economic crunch

People aged between 35 and 44 are emerging as some of the biggest losers in the economic downturn, a new poll indicates.

Identified as "treadmill families" – because no matter how hard they try to balance their household finances, they are failing to shift their debt – 64 per cent say they expect their financial situation to worsen or remain the same over the next two years.

The age group is said to be feeling the effects of the recession particularly badly because they have been forced to both increase their debts and dip into their savings. Other key factors affecting this age group include changes to higher-education funding and spiralling costs of childcare.

The survey by ComRes for Legal and General reveals that 84 per cent of 35- to 44-year-olds feel worse off financially, or about the same compared to five years ago, whilst 64 per cent expect the state of their personal finances to get worse or not change in the next two years.

It also suggests the group has cut their spending of disposable income by more than any other age group. Money spent on entertainment has fallen by 55 per cent and on clothing by 45 per cent.

John Godfrey, corporate affairs director at Legal and General, said: "Treadmill families are five years into a lost decade. They are running harder to stand still, having been hit by a triple-whammy of big changes. They are experiencing the first downturn when they are in the driving-seat of family budgeting."