Households fear cost of returning to the office will hit finances – survey

Office workers
Office workers - (Copyright PA Wire)
0:01am, Thu 20 Aug 2020
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Nearly a quarter of households fear that returning to the office will put their finances under pressure after five months of working from home during lockdown, a survey has shown.

The latest household financial confidence tracker for comparethemarket.com showed 23% of households worry about a hit to their finances from the cost of commuting, fuel and lunches when they go back to the office.

More than a third (34%) of those surveyed said they were worried because lockdown had already seen a reduction in their disposable income, while one in five (20%) said their income had been cut due to a partner or someone in their household being made redundant or put on furlough.

The study showed households estimate they spent around £230 a month, or £58 each week, on lunch and drinks, transport and discretionary shopping when working in the office.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent return to work plan advised workers to get back to the office.

But the poll also revealed only 11% of people planned to return to their place of work full time at the beginning of August.

Anna McEntee, product director at comparethemarket.com, said: “The prospect of getting back to work as normal should come as a relief for many people who have been worried about financial stability as a result of the pandemic, however there are significant costs which come with going back to the office.

“Our research shows how households are spending hundreds of pounds a month on working from their office – money which they could save, or put to other uses, during lockdown.

“The fact that over a third of household now believe it is more cost efficient to work from home suggests that the Government’s advice on getting back to work as normal could actually put further strain on household finances.”

The study found that workers spent £9.21 a week on average buying lunch, £7.28 on drinks and snacks, £8.53 on public transport, £16.51 on petrol and £16.76 on discretionary shopping.

Some families have been able to boost their savings thanks to lower outgoings amid the lockdown, saving on average £560 over the past 18 weeks.

But nearly 17% of people surveyed are worried a return to the office could impact their savings.

Workers are looking at ways to offset the cost of returning to their workplace, with 58% planning to make their own packed lunches, 13% aiming to walk or cycle to work and 17% hoping to work from home more often, according to the study.

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