Skip to content

Chapter 5: Financial Wealth, Wealth in Great Britain 2010-12 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 15 May 2014 Download PDF

Key points

  • Aggregate net financial wealth for all private households in Great Britain increased by £208 billion (19%) to £1,299 billion in current prices between 2008/10 and 2010/12.

  • In 2010/12, a quarter (25%) of households had negative net financial wealth.

  • Median household net financial wealth decreased by £500 (8%) to £5,900 between 2008/10 and 2010/12.

  • Households in London saw the largest percentage rise in median net financial wealth of 26% between 2006/08 and 2010/12, rising from £4,700 to £5,900.

Introduction

This chapter looks at estimates of household financial wealth from the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS). Financial Wealth comprises: formal financial assets (such as bank accounts, savings accounts, stocks and shares); informal financial assets (such as money saved at home); assets held by children in the household; and liabilities (such as formal borrowing, overdrafts and arrears on household bills). The gross value of financial assets is considered first, followed by the value of liabilities. These are then combined to produce estimates of net financial wealth (gross assets minus liabilities). The measure of financial wealth is based on the personal, private wealth of households. This means that it does not include business assets owned by household members.

Much of the analysis in this chapter is presented at the household level. This means that all assets held by individuals living within households have been added together to produce household totals. In some cases the household totals represent only one account or holding, whereas in others they represent multiple accounts held by one or more than one individual.

Some individual-level analyses are presented towards the end of the chapter, considering the distribution of individuals by age, education level, economic activity and socio-economic classification across the net financial wealth bands of the household they live in.

Financial assets

Financial assets are classified as either ‘formal financial assets’: recognised products designed for individuals to hold, save or invest their monies; or ‘informal financial assets’: money saved in cash at home, money lent to others or money paid into a savings and loan club.

For most formal financial asset products, having the product would imply a positive financial asset. However, there are some products which, although ‘open’ allow an individual to have little or no money in them, or indeed in the case of current accounts in debit (overdrafts) the product would actually be a financial liability rather than a financial asset.

Formal financial assets

Table 5.1 shows the percentage of households with different types of formal financial asset products across the three waves of the survey. In 2010/12, an estimated 98% of households had some type of formal financial asset product, unchanged from 2006/08 and 2008/10. Where all current accounts are excluded, three-quarters – or 75% of all households report ownership of a formal financial asset. This percentage has dropped 5 percentage points compared with 2008/10, but it is the same as the percentage in 2006/08.

The most common formal financial asset held by households was a current account; 96% of households held one or more in 2010/12. A current account is an account used for day-to-day transactions. There is immediate access to the money – usually by a card for cash machine withdrawal and/or a cheque book. Current accounts also provide other benefits to the holder including a direct debit facility – the preferred payment method for utilities in particular.

Savings are money which is set aside, away from regular spending, with the intention that it will be available at a later date. The percentage of households possessing one or more savings or deposit accounts (excluding ISAs) fell between 2008/10 and 2010/12 from 68% to 58%. Nevertheless, savings accounts remain the most common formal financial asset that households use to save money. The money deposited can always be returned in full to the saver, usually with interest, although account holders may be required to give notice to withdraw their savings (unlike for current accounts).

Nearly half of all households (48%) had an Individual Savings Account (ISA) in 2010/12; a fall of 1 percentage point from 2008/10. The percentage of households with an ISA in 2008/10 and 2010/12 is higher than in 2006/08. This is partly the result of Personal Equity Plans1 being reported under ISAs for 2008/10 and 2010/12, whereas they were reported separately in 2006/08. Income from ISAs is tax-free and there are annual ceilings on the amount that can be invested.

The percentage of households owning National Savings certificates and bonds (including premium bonds) also fell from 28% in 2008/10 to 22% in 2010/12. Premium bonds are unique financial assets – instead of earning interest, the bonds go into a monthly draw for tax-free prizes.

Table 5.1: Percentage of households with formal financial assets: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

Percentage (%)
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
All current accounts1 95 96 96
    Current accounts in credit 85 90 90
Savings accounts 62 68 58
ISAs2 42 49 48
National Savings certificates and bonds3 24 28 22
UK shares 15 16 12
Insurance products4 10 10 7
Fixed term bonds 8 12 11
Employee shares and share options 7 8 6
Unit/Investment trusts 6 6 5
Overseas shares 2 2 2
UK bonds/gilts 1 1 1
Any formal financial asset including current accounts in credit5,6 98 98 98
Any formal financial asset excluding all current accounts 75 80 75

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Includes households with current accounts in credit, with zero balance, or in debit (overdraft).
  2. Individual Savings Accounts. Includes Personal Equity Plans (PEPs). At wave 1, PEPs were separately identified, but in April 2008, PEPs were regulated as ISAs. Therefore in wave 2 and wave 3, they are included as ISAs.
  3. Including Premium Bonds.
  4. Includes Life insurance, Friendly Society or endowment policies (excluding endowments linked to the mortgage on this property).  Excluding term insurance policies i.e. life insurance policies which only have a value if you die in the period of the insurance.
  5. Includes a small number of households with overseas bonds/gilts.
  6. Excludes current accounts with zero balance or in debit (overdraft).

Download table

Interest Rates and Savings

In 2009 the Bank of England lowered its base rate to 0.5% – a record low. Lower interest rates result in a poorer return on savings and are likely to reduce the popularity in opening or keeping an existing savings account. Table 5.1 illustrates a fall of 6 percentage points in the number of households with money held in National Savings Certificates and Bonds between 2008/10 and 2010/12. In the case of premium bonds, lower interest rates reduce the prize fund and the chances of success. The graph below tracks the Bank of England base rate and the premium bond interest rate during only the period covered by the three waves of WAS i.e. 2006 through 2012. The base rate peaked during wave one at 5.75%, but shortly after the start of wave two fell sharply, and has remained at a record low of 0.5% ever since. The interest rate used for premium bonds mimics this pattern, falling from a peak of 4.0% during wave one to a low of 1.0% in wave two. Although this interest rate fall happened relatively early in wave two, it might well go some way towards explaining the reduction in households holding premium bonds.   

Figure 5.A: Bank of England base rate and premium bond interest rate: 2006-2012, UK

Figure 5.A: Bank of England base rate and premium bond interest rate: 2006-2012, UK
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

 

Table 5.2 presents the median amounts held in the different formal financial asset products identified in the survey. The figures quoted exclude households without each type of asset. In 2010/12, half of all households with current accounts in credit had £1,200 or more in their accounts, compared to £1,000 or more in 2008/10 and 2006/08. Where all current accounts are excluded, the median value of any formal financial asset was £12,000, compared with £10,300 in 2008/10 and £10,200 in 2006/08.

The percentage of households holding savings accounts (excluding ISAs), ISAs and UK shares all fell between 2008/10 and 2010/12. Despite this, the median value of monies saved in these types of formal financial assets all increased between the same period. The median amount of money held within savings accounts (excluding ISAs) increased, up from £3,000 in 2008/10 to £4,000 in 2010/12. The median amount of money held in ISAs increased from £7,000 in 2008/10 to £9,000 in 2010/12. The median value of UK shares doubled between 2008/10 and 2010/12 to £4,000. This value now matches the previous median value of UK shares in 2006/08.

Looking at the collective amount held in all formal financial asset products, half of all households holding formal financial assets valued these at £8,000 or more in 2010/12, compared with £7,900 in 2008/10 and £7,000 in 2006/08.

Table 5.2: Median Value of Formal financial assets: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
All current accounts2 800 900 1,000
    Current accounts in credit 1,000 1,000 1,200
Savings accounts 3,500 3,000 4,000
ISAs3 7,000 7,000 9,000
National Savings certificates and bonds4 300 300 600
UK shares 4,000 2,000 4,000
Insurance products5 15,000 17,500 19,700
Fixed term bonds 17,000 20,000 20,000
Employee shares and share options 4,000 3,000 3,600
Unit/Investment trusts 15,000 14,000 20,000
Overseas shares 3,000 2,000 3,000
UK bonds/gilts 15,000 11,500 16,200
Any formal financial asset including current accounts in credit6,7 7,000 7,900 8,000
Any formal financial asset excluding all current accounts 10,200 10,300 12,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Results exclude households without each type of asset.
  2. This represents the net value of all current accounts (i.e. including current accounts in credit, with zero balance and in overdraft).
  3. Individual Savings Account, including Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) - at wave 1, PEPs were separately identified, but in April 2008, PEPs were regulated as ISAs. Therefore in wave 2 and wave 3, they are included as ISAs.
  4. Including Premium Bonds.
  5. Includes Life insurance, Friendly Society or endowment policies (excluding endowments linked to the mortgage on this property).  Excluding term insurance policies i.e. life insurance policies which only have a value if you die in the period of the insurance.
  6. Includes a small number of households with overseas bonds/gilts.
  7. Excludes current accounts with zero balance or in debit (overdraft).

Download table

A longitudinal analysis of the change in median values held in formal financial assets 

The median value of monies held in savings accounts (excluding ISAs) and ISAs increased between 2008/10 and 2010/12. With these direct cross-sectional comparisons, a possible inference might be that people have increased their savings. However, the longitudinal nature of the survey allows us to consider the ways in which individual savings change over time. The figure below compares median values for those who had savings (in either a savings account or ISA) in both 2008/10 and 2010/12, against those with only savings in either of these account types in 2008/10.
 
The median value held in ISAs for those with monies saved in this account type in both 2008/10 and 2010/12 was £6,000. This is exactly double the median value of £3,000 for those who had ISA savings in 2008/10 but no longer had money saved in this account type in 2010/12. The median value held in savings accounts was also notably lower for those with a value only in 2008/10 (£600), compared with those who had money saved in this type of account in both 2008/10 and 2010/12 (£2,500).
 
These findings indicate that the amount saved in an account is an important determinant in whether the account will continue to be used two years later. The findings also indicate that the increase in median values seen in the cross-sectional tables are not simply because of an increase in the amount individuals were saving, but in part the result of individuals with lower savings account values withdrawing their savings. 

Figure 5.B: Individual median value in savings accounts and ISAs in 2008/10, for those with and without savings in such accounts in 2010/12: Great Britain, 2008/10 - 2010/12

Figure 5.B: Individual median value in savings accounts and ISAs in 2008/10, for those with and without savings in such accounts in 2010/12: Great Britain, 2008/10 - 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Informal financial assets

Informal saving comprises money saved in cash at home, money given to someone to look after or money paid into a savings and loan club. The percentage of households who held informal financial assets of some kind remained stable across the three waves of the survey; 10% of households reported informal financial assets of £250 or more in 2010/12 (Table 5.3).
 
The survey asked only about informal saving and lending for amounts in excess of £250. This £250 minimum amount adopted by the survey means that it might have underestimated the true percentages of households with informal saving and lending in Great Britain. Previous research2  has shown that small amounts of informal savings are common in low-income households, and is often the only type of saving that such households engage in.

Table 5.3: Percentage of households with informal financial assets: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

Percentage (%)
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Amounts saved informally   6 6 6
Amounts lent to others informally   4 5 4
Households with any informal financial assets   10 10 10

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes small values (less than £250).

Download table


 

Table 5.4 shows the median value held in different types of informal financial asset product. Half of all households who held informal financial assets, valued these at £800 or more in 2010/12, a rise of £100 from 2008/10. The median value for amounts saved informally did not change from £400 between 2008/10 and 2010/12. The median value for amounts lent to others informally increased from £1,900 in 2008/10 to £2,500 in 2010/12.

Table 5.4: Median value of informal financial assets: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

£
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Amounts saved informally              500            400            400
Amounts lent to others informally           1,800         1,900         2,500
Households with any formal financial assets              700            700            800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Results exclude households without each type of asset.
  2. Excludes small values (less than £250).

Download table

Children’s financial assets

The survey also enquired about children’s assets, including the Child Trust Fund (CTF). A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a long-term tax-free savings and investment account for children in the United Kingdom. New accounts cannot be created but money can still be deposited into existing accounts. On 1 November 2011, Junior Individual Savings Accounts (Junior ISAs) were introduced as a replacement.

In general, all children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 were eligible for a CTF if their parent or guardian received Child Benefit and they lived in the UK. The Child Benefit claimant (usually the parent) received a voucher with which to open an account; a voucher worth £250 for children eligible before 1 August 2010, or a voucher worth £50 for those children eligible after 1 August 2010. There was an additional sum for children born into low-income families eligible for full Child Tax Credit; £250 for children eligible before 1 August 2010 or £50 for those eligible after. If the CTF account was not opened by the time the voucher expired (normally 12 months), HM Revenue and Customs would open an account for the child. Once opened, family and friends can deposit up to £1,200 a year into the CTF on behalf of the child.

In 2010/12, 15% of all households reported having one or more Child Trust Funds, which has increased from 10% in 2006/08 and 13% in 2008/10 (Table 5.5). However, further increases in the percentage of households with Child Trust Funds cannot be expected as they were discontinued in 2011. Table 5.5 also shows the household value of Child Trust Funds. In 2010/12, the median household value of Child Trust Funds was unchanged at £500 from 2008/10. 

Table 5.5: Child Trust Funds, summary statistics: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Percentage with Child Trust Funds (%)       10 13 15
Median (£)       300 500 500

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Median excludes households without this type of asset.
  2. Child Trust Funds are for children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 – please see Box C for further information.

Download table



The survey also asked whether children in the household had any other financial assets in their names. In 2010/12, 16% of all households reported having such assets (Table 5.6). Half of households valued their children’s other assets at £1,000 or more in both 2008/10 and 2010/12. 
 

Table 5.6: Other children’s assets, summary statistics: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Percentage with other children's assets (%)       16 17 16
Median (£)       800 1,000 1,000

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Median excludes households without this type of asset.
  2. Other children’s assets are for under 16-year-olds and exclude Child Trust Funds.

Download table

Endowments

Endowments for the purpose of mortgage repayments are a financial asset and are therefore included here rather than as part of property wealth. Endowment policies can be used to save funds to repay the mortgage at the end of the term. This product also provides life cover and will pay out if the holder dies before policy maturity.

In 2010/12, endowments for the purposes of repaying a mortgage were held by 4% of households (Table 5.7). This percentage has fallen from 5% in 2008/10 and 7% in 2006/08. Half of all households possessing endowments valued these at £28,800 or more in 2010/12. 

Table 5.7: Endowments, summary statistics: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Percentage with endowments (%)     7 5 4
Median (£)     28,000 27,000 28,800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Median excludes households without this type of asset.
  2. Endowments for the purpose of mortgage repayments.

Download table

Notes for Financial assets

  1. Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) were investment plans in the UK that allowed people over the age of 18 to invest in shares of UK companies. They were discontinued in 1999 and replaced by Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs).
  2. Kempson, E. (1998) ‘Savings and Low-income Households’. London: Personal Investment Authority.

Household gross financial wealth

Gross financial wealth is the sum of: formal financial assets (not including current accounts in overdraft), plus informal financial assets held by adults, plus financial assets held by children, plus endowments for the purpose of mortgage repayment. Half of all households had gross financial wealth of £8,400 or more in 2010/12 (Table 5.8).

Table 5.8: Median household gross financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Median household gross financial wealth       8,000       8,500       8,400

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Download table

Financial liabilities

This section examines the financial liabilities of households, including non-mortgage borrowing, and arrears on these and/or on other household bills. Mortgage statistics are provided within the property wealth chapter of the current report.

Household non-mortgage borrowing

Table 5.9 shows the percentage of households who had non-mortgage borrowing. In 2010/12, just under half of all households had some form of non-mortgage borrowing (48%). The most popular means of non-mortgage borrowing was a credit or charge card; a quarter of all households (25%) had outstanding balances on credit or charge cards in 2010/12.
 
The percentage of households with formal loans decreased from 20% in 2008/10 down to 18% in 2010/12. Despite this fall, the percentage of households with a formal loan remains higher in 2010/12 than the respective value in 2006/08 (15%). The percentage of households with liabilities attributed to a loan from the student loans company has also seen an increase between each of the waves, albeit small (up from 3% in 2006/08 to 4% in 2008/10 to 5% in 2010/12).

Table 5.9: Percentage of households with non-mortgage borrowing, by type of borrowing: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

Percentage (%)
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Formal loans 15 20 18
Informal Loans 1 2 2
Loans from the Student Loan Company 3 4 5
Hire purchase 14 13 14
Credit and charge cards 26 25 25
Overdrafts 17 18 18
Store cards and charge accounts 5 5 4
Mail order 9 8 7
Any non-mortgage borrowing 50 50 49
      Excluding overdrafts 46 46 45
      Excluding loans from the Student Loans Company 49 49 48
 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Download table

Table 5.10 shows the median values of borrowing for households with that particular liability. In order to obtain a value for non-mortgage borrowing, information is collected on the value of payments and how many payments are outstanding. The median value of non-mortgage borrowing was £3,600 in 2010/12.

It was noted at 2006/08 that some loans had been reported, but because no payments had yet been made, no value was calculated. At 2008/10 and 2010/12 additional questions were asked to establish the value of these new loans.
 
The percentage of households with formal loans fell by 2 percentage points between 2008/10 and 2010/12. However, the median amount outstanding on the loans rose by £400, from £4,800 in 2008/10 to £5,200 in 2010/12.

Informal loans were the least popular type of non-mortgage borrowing identified on the survey; only 2% of households reported this type of liability in 2010/12. The median value outstanding for households with informal loans increased from £1,300 in 2008/10 to £2,300 in 2010/12. The rise in the median value of informal loans between 2008/10 and 2010/12 is consistent with the trend in Table 5.3, where there was an increase in the median amount of money lent to others reported as an informal financial asset.

Table 5.10: Median amounts outstanding for household non-mortgage borrowing, by type of borrowing: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Formal loans2 4,500 4,800 5,200
Informal Loans 1,500 1,300 2,300
Loans from the Student Loan Company 8,000 9,000 9,000
Hire purchase 2,600 2,100 2,300
Credit and charge cards 1,500 1,600 1,900
Overdrafts 500 500 600
Store cards and charge accounts 200 200 300
Mail order 100 200 200
Any non-mortgage borrowing2 2,900 3,200 3,600
     Excluding overdrafts 3,100 3,500 4,000
     Excluding loans from the Student Loans Company 2,600 2,900 3,100

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes households without this particular type of borrowing.
  2. 2006/08 estimates exclude new loans i.e. those where no repayments had yet been made.

Download table

Household arrears

In addition to the amounts outstanding on non-mortgage borrowing, some households will be in arrears in relation to these and/or other household bills. In 2010/12, 4% of households were in arrears in terms of their fixed-term non-mortgage borrowing (Table 5.11).

Table 5.11: Percentage of households in arrears of their fixed term non-mortgage borrowing, by type of borrowing: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

Percentage (%)
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Personal and cash loan arrears 4 5 5
Mail order arrears 4 4 3
Any fixed term non-mortgage borrowing arrears3 4 4 4

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Behind by two or more consecutive payments on specified commitment.
  2. Behind by two or more consecutive payments on specified commitment.
  3. Includes hire purchase arrears, which are not presented separately due to a low number of responding households.

Download table

 

Those who reported arrears for any type of non-mortgage borrowing commitments were also asked a series of questions to enable the total amount outstanding to be calculated. Table 5.12 shows the values of arrears for households who were behind with fixed-term non-mortgage borrowing. Half of all households with any fixed term non-mortgage borrowing arrears owed £400 or more in outstanding commitments in 2010/12.

Table 5.12: Median household arrears, by type of borrowing: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£
2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Personal and cash loan arrears   400 300 600
Mail order arrears   100 200 100
Any fixed-term non-mortgage borrowing arrears3   300 300 400

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Behind by two or more consecutive payments on specified commitment.
  2. Excludes households without this type of fixed term non-mortgage borrowing.
  3. Includes hire purchase arrears, which are not presented separately due to a low number of responding households.

Download table

Household financial liabilities

Financial liabilities are the sum of arrears on consumer credit and household bills plus personal loans and other non-mortgage borrowing plus informal borrowing plus overdrafts on current accounts.
 
In 2010/12, half of all households (50%) had some form of financial liability (Table 5.13).  The median value of financial liabilities was £2,800 in 2006/08, which increased to £3,200 in 2008/10, and again increased to £3,500 in 2010/12. 
  

Table 5.13: Household financial liabilities, summary statistics: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

  2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Percentage with financial liabilities (%) 51 51 50
Median (£) 2,800 3,200 3,500

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Median excludes households without financial liabilities.

Download table

 

A longitudinal analysis of persistent debt burden

Most analysis presented in this report is cross-sectional, with values relating to one specific time period. Collecting data at multiple waves from the same individuals allows us to consider how wealth, or in this instance debt burden, changes over time for specific individuals.
 
At each of the waves of the survey, individuals with financial liabilities were asked to what extent they considered repayments of these a burden. The figure below presents the frequency of individuals who considered these liabilities to be a heavy burden across the three waves, with the respective number who continued to consider their debts to be a heavy burden from 2006/08 onwards. The darker shaded bar in 2008/10 represents those who had financial liabilities in 2006/08 and 2008/10, and saw them as a heavy burden. The darker shaded bar in 2010/12 represents the number of those who had financial liabilities and saw them as a heavy burden in 2006/08, 2008/10 and 2010/12.

The group represented by the darker shaded bar in 2010/12, therefore, reflects those who saw their debts to be a burden continuously over a 6 year time period and were in persistent debt burden. This accounts for nearly half a million individuals (467,000).

Figure 5.D: Frequency of individuals considering their debt to be a heavy burden, and persistence of debt burden: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

Figure 5.D: Frequency of individuals considering their debt to be a heavy burden, and persistence of debt burden: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Household net financial wealth

Net financial wealth represents gross financial wealth minus financial liabilities. Median net financial wealth was £5,900 in 2010/12. 

Table 5.14: Median household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£
  2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Median household net financial wealth 5,700 6,400 5,900

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Download table



Figure 5.15 presents the distribution of households by net financial wealth bands. Combining the three lowest net financial wealth bands enables us to identify those households in negative net financial wealth. A quarter of households (25%) had negative net financial wealth in 2010/12 (unchanged from 25% in 2008/10 but higher than 23% in 2006/08).

The percentage of households with a net financial wealth of less than -£5,000, the lowest net financial wealth band, was highest for 2010/12 at 12% (compared with 11% and 9% in 2008/10 and 2006/08 respectively). Considering the upper net financial wealth band of £100,000 or more, a higher percentage of households belonged within this band in 2008/10 and 2010/12 (12%) compared with 2006/08 (11%).The net financial wealth band containing the highest percentage of households was ‘at least £500 but less than £5,000’. In 2010/12, 16% of households had enough net financial wealth to fall within this band.   
    

Figure 5.15: Household net financial wealth (banded): Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

Figure 5.15: Household net financial wealth (banded): Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart


 

 

Aggregate estimates of financial wealth

Table 5.16 shows the aggregate values for financial wealth for all households in Great Britain (i.e. the weighted sum of each component of financial wealth for every household). Total net financial wealth for the whole of Great Britain increased over all three waves, from £1,043 billion in 2006/08 to £1,091 billion in 2008/10 to £1,299 billion in 2010/12.

Between 2006/08 and 2010/12, the aggregate value for household gross financial wealth increased quicker than the aggregate value for household financial liabilities (24% compared to 18% respectively).

Table 5.16: Aggregate financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 – 2010/12

£ billion
    2006/08 2008/10 2010/12
Aggregate household gross financial wealth           1,131         1,186         1,402
Aggregate household financial liabilities                88              95            104
Aggregate household net financial wealth           1,043         1,091         1,299

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Download table

Household net financial wealth by household characteristics

Financial Wealth by Region

Figure 5.17 shows median household net financial wealth according to the location of the main residence of the household. It shows Scotland, Wales and the nine English regions (London has its own region; the figures for the South East exclude London). The region with the highest median net financial wealth in 2010/12 was the South East; half of all households within this particular region held net financial wealth of £12,300 or more. Households in the North East had the lowest median net financial wealth value of £2,400.

Figure 5.17: Median household net financial wealth, by region: Great Britain, 2010/12

Figure 5.17: Median household net financial wealth, by region: Great Britain, 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

The regions with the highest and lowest net financial wealth were unchanged across the three waves of the survey. Households in the South East had the highest net financial wealth in each period (£12,300 in 2010/12, £12,700 in 2008/10 and £11,100 in 2006/08) and households in the North East the lowest (£2,400 in 2010/12, £2,900 in 2008/10 and £2,400 in 2006/08).

Figure 5.18 presents the change in median household net financial wealth between 2006/08 and 2010/12 for all households by region. London saw the largest percentage rise in median net financial wealth of 26% between 2006/08 and 2010/12, increasing from £4,700 to £5,900. Scotland saw the largest fall (25%) in the median value of net financial wealth (falling from £4,400 in 2006/08 to £3,300 in 2010/12).    

Table 5.18: Median net household financial wealth, by household type: Great Britain, 2010/12

Table 5.18: Median net household financial wealth, by household type: Great Britain, 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

 

Financial wealth by Household Type

Figure 5.19 shows the median values of household net financial wealth according to the ten categories of household type.

The median value of household net financial wealth was the highest for couple households who have no children, where one person was over and the other under the state pension age, at £35,300. As illustrated in the introduction and demographics chapter of the current report, 5% of households were categorised as this type of household, making it one of the least common of all the household types. Couple households with no children, where both persons were above the state pension age had the second highest median net financial wealth, at £32,000. The median value of household net financial wealth was the lowest for lone parent households with dependent children, at £100. Single person households where the householder was under the state pension age and lone parent households with non-dependent children also had low net median financial wealth values of £800 and £1,500 respectively.

The most common household type comprised couple households with dependent children, accounting for 19% of all households. Median net financial wealth for this particular household type was £3,300 in 2010/12.

Figure 5.19: Median net household financial wealth, by household type: Great Britain, 2010/12

Figure 5.19: Median net household financial wealth, by household type: Great Britain, 2010/12
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Household net financial wealth by individual characteristics

This section looks at some key characteristics of individuals living in households by net financial wealth bands. It is important to remember that this analysis presents individual characteristics by the total net financial wealth of the household that the individual lives within. In certain instances it is possible that this wealth is more likely attributed to other individuals living within that household.

Gender and Marital Status

Table 5.20 shows the distribution of individuals by gender and marital status, across the bands of household net financial wealth. In 2010/12, 27% of all individuals lived in households with negative net financial wealth.
 
A higher percentage of cohabiting individuals lived in households in the lowest net financial wealth band in 2010/12 than any other marital status group (22% of both men and women lived in households with net financial wealth of less than -£5,000). Married individuals were most likely to live in households belonging to the highest net financial wealth band of £100,000 or more (17% for men and women). Compared with single and cohabitating individuals, married individuals are on average older1. Knowing also that the earnings of older workers are higher than those of younger workers2 and that older individuals will have had longer to accumulate financial wealth might go some way towards explaining  these differences.

Table 5.20: Individuals by gender and marital status, by household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2010/12

Percentage (%)
Gender and Marital Status  Less than -£5,000  -£5,000 but < -£500   -£500 but < £0   £0 but < £500   £500 but < £5,000   £5,000 but < £12,500   £12,500 but < £25,000   £25,000 but < £50,000   £50,000 but < £100,000   £100,000 or more 
Men                    
 - Married1 12 7 2 4 13 11 10 12 12 17
 - Cohabiting2 22 15 3 6 14 9 8 8 8 7
 - Single 16 13 4 8 17 10 8 9 7 8
 - Widowed 2* 5* 2* 8 19 17 12 11 11 13
 - Divorced 8 9 4 15 20 13 8 9 7 7
 - Separated3 12 17 5* 10 22 10 5* 7 4* 7
All men 14 10 3 6 15 10 9 10 9 12
Women                    
 - Married1 12 7 2 4 13 11 10 13 12 17
 - Cohabiting2 22 15 3 7 14 10 8 8 8 7
 - Single 17 14 4 8 17 10 7 9 7 8
 - Widowed 3 4 2 9 23 16 12 10 9 12
 - Divorced 10 14 6 12 22 11 9 6 5 4
 - Separated3 12 19 5* 16 17 9 6* 5* 7 4*
All women 14 10 3 7 16 11 9 10 9 11
All Persons 14 10 3 6 16 11 9 10 9 12

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Includes civil partnerships.
  2. Includes same sex couples.
  3. Includes civil partner separations and dissolutions.
  4. * indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

Download table

Age

Table 5.21 shows the distribution of individuals living in households with varying degrees of net financial wealth according to their age.

Individuals belonging to the 25-34 year old age group were most likely to live in households in the lowest net financial wealth band (21% of such individuals lived in households with net financial wealth less than -£5,000). Combining the lowest three net financial wealth bands enables us to identify households in negative net financial wealth. Nearly four in ten individuals in the 25-34 year old age group lived in households with negative net financial wealth (38%), compared with 6% of individuals aged 65 or over.
 
Focusing on the highest net financial wealth band, individuals aged 55-64 and 65 years and above were most likely to live in households with net financial wealth of £100,000 or more (22% and 19% respectively). Individuals aged 25-34 were least likely to live in households with the highest amounts of net financial wealth (5%).

Table 5.21: Individuals by age, by household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

Percentage (%)
Age Less than  -£5,000 -£5,000 but < -£500 -£500 but < £0 £0 but < £500 £500 but < £5,000 £5,000 but < £12,500 £12,500 but < £25,000 £25,000 but < £50,000 £50,000 but < £100,000 £100,000 or more
Under 16 18 14 4 7 19 9 7 8 6 7
16-24 19 13 4 9 14 9 7 8 7 9
25-34 21 13 4 6 18 12 7 8 6 5
35-44 17 12 3 7 15 11 8 10 8 8
45-54 13 10 3 6 14 9 9 12 11 12
55-64 8 7 3 6 11 10 10 12 13 22
65+ 2 3 1 6 16 14 13 14 13 19
All Persons 14 10 3 6 16 11 9 10 9 12

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Download table

Education Level

Table 5.22 shows the percentage of individuals living in households with varying degrees of net financial wealth according to their education level.
 
The percentage of individuals educated at degree level or above living in households with net financial wealth of £100,000 or more (the highest net financial wealth band) was 23% – 16 percentage points higher than individuals reporting no qualifications.
 
Nearly three in ten individuals with other qualifications lived in households with negative net financial wealth (28%). This compares with 20% of individuals reporting no qualifications and 21% of individuals reporting degree level qualifications or above.

Table 5.22: Individuals by education level, by household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2010/12

Percentage (%)
Education Level Less than -£5,000 -£5,000 but < -£500 -£500 but < £0 £0 but < £500 £500 but < £5,000 £5,000 but < £12,500 £12,500 but < £25,000 £25,000 but < £50,000 £50,000 but < £100,000 £100,000 or more
Degree level or above 14 6 1 2 11 10 9 12 13 23
Other qualifications 14 11 3 7 15 11 9 11 9 10
No qualifications 6 9 5 13 21 13 10 9 7 7
All persons 13 9 3 6 15 11 9 11 10 13

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Includes only eligible adults who gave their education level.

Download table

Economic Activity

Table 5.23 shows the percentage of individuals living in households with varying degrees of net financial wealth according to their economic activity.

The percentage of individuals living in households in negative net financial wealth was highest for those who were economically inactive due to sickness or disability (42%), and those who were unemployed (43%). Fewer retired individuals lived in households with negative net financial wealth than any other economic activity group (6%). Retired and self-employed individuals were most likely to live in households with net financial wealth of £100,000 or more (21% and 17% respectively). 

Table 5.23: Individuals by economic activity, by household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

Percentage (%)
Economic Activity Less than  -£5,000 -£5,000 but < -£500 -£500 but < £0 £0 but < £500 £500 but < £5,000 £5,000 but < £12,500 £12,500 but < £25,000 £25,000 but < £50,000 £50,000 but < £100,000 £100,000 or more
Economically Active 17 10 3 5 14 11 9 11 10 11
  Employee 17 10 2 4 14 11 9 12 10 10
  Self Employed 13 8 1 4 14 12 8 10 12 17
  Unemployed 16 19 8 16 14 6 5 6 5 5
Economically Inactive 7 7 3 9 16 11 10 10 10 16
  Student 13 10 2* 8 12 9 7 6 9 13
  Looking after family/home 12 15 5 12 22 9 6 6 4 9
  Sick / Disabled2 13 19 10 20 17 7 5 3 2 3
  Retired 2 3 1 6 16 13 12 13 13 21
  Other Inactive 14 10 6 9 12 9 8 7 11 14
All Persons 13 9 3 6 15 11 9 11 8 13

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Only includes eligible adults who gave their economic activity.
  2. Data for temporarily sick or disabled has been combined with long term sick and disabled.
  3. * indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

Download table

 

Socio-economic Group

Table 5.24 shows the distribution of individuals living in households with varying degrees of net financial wealth according to their socio-economic classification.

Over one in five individuals classified in the group ‘large employers and higher managerial’ lived in households with net financial wealth of £100,000 or more (23%). Individuals working in semi-routine occupations were least likely to live in a household within the highest net financial wealth band (4%). Individuals whose economic activity was reported as never worked or long term unemployed were least likely to live in households with net financial wealth of less than -£5,000 (7% in 2010/12).
 
The percentage of individuals living in households in negative net financial wealth was highest for those who were working in routine occupations (32%). The percentage of individuals classified in the groups ‘small employers and own account workers’, ‘lower supervisory and technical’ and ‘semi-routine occupations’ who lived in households in negative net financial wealth was 29%.

Table 5.24: Individuals by socio-economic classification, by household net financial wealth: Great Britain, 2006/08 - 2010/12

Percentage (%)
Socio-economic Classification Less than -£5,000 -£5,000 but < -£500 -£500 but < £0 £0 but < £500 £500 but < £5,000 £5,000 but < £12,500 £12,500 but < £25,000 £25,000 but < £50,000 £50,000 but < £100,000 £100,000 or more
Large employers and higher managerial 10 5 1* 2 10 10 10 14 16 23
Higher professional 15 7 2 3 12 11 10 12 12 16
Lower managerial and professional 13 8 2 5 14 12 11 11 11 13
Intermediate occupations 13 9 3 5 17 13 9 10 9 13
Small employers and own account workers 14 12 3 7 17 12 10 12 7 6
Lower supervisory and technical 12 12 5 11 18 12 8 9 7 7
Semi-routine occupations 10 14 5 13 22 10 8 8 5 4
Routine occupations 11 15 6 15 20 8 7 5 5 6
Never worked/long term unemployed 7 8 3 10 17 11 10 10 9 15
All persons 11 9 3 7 16 11 10 11 10 13

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Includes only eligible adults who gave sufficient information to determine socio-economic group.
  2. * indicates a data point based on a small sample - such data points should be treated with some caution.

Download table

Notes for Household net financial wealth by individual characteristics

  1. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/how-have-living-arrangements-and-marital-status-in-england-and-wales-changed-since-2001-/STY-living-arrangements-and-marital-status.html#tab-Age-and-sex-distribution-by-marital-status-
  2. www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ashe/annual-survey-of-hours-and-earnings/2013-provisional-results/stb-ashe-statistical-bulletin-2013.html#tab-Earnings-by-age-group

Quality assuring financial wealth data

The following section compares estimates derived from the financial chapter of the Wealth in Great Britain 2010/12 report with other sources of financial wealth data.

HMRC ISA Data

Initially HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published statistics on Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) were compared with data from the WAS. HMRC data on ISAs1 are derived from annual information submitted to HMRC by providers in respect of each individual scheme member. It provides figures on the number of individuals contributing to these savings accounts and the amounts held in ISAs by gender and age. Table 5.E compares the median ISA wealth from the two sources. Figure 5.F shows the percentage difference between these two sources, by age. Note that the average market values are only for those with non-zero reported ISA wealth. 

Table 5.E: Comparison of median ISA wealth, by age and gender, noting that WAS covers Great Britain (2010/12) and HMRC covers United Kingdom (5th April 2011)

   £  
  WAS 2010/12 HMRC  (as of end of tax year 2010-11) Difference
Male      
Under 25 1,700 1,500 13%
25-34 3,000 2,100 43%
35-44 4,000 4,300 -7%
45-54 6,300 6,500 -3%
55-64 10,000 10,600 -6%
65 and over 10,500 14,000 -25%
All Male 6,600 6,600 0%
       
Female      
Under 25 1,800 1,400 29%
25-34 2,300 1,500 53%
35-44 3,600 3,600 0%
45-54 5,500 5,100 8%
55-64 10,000 10,700 -7%
65 and over 9,000 14,600 -38%
All Female 5,700 5,300 8%
       
All      
Under 25 1,700 1,400 21%
25-34 2,500 1,800 39%
35-44 4,000 4,100 -2%
45-54 6,000 5,400 11%
55-64 10,000 10,600 -6%
65 and over 10,000 14,300 -30%
All ISA holders 6,000 5,900 2%

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Excludes individuals without ISA wealth.

Download table



Figure 5.F: Percentage difference in median ISA wealth, by age, noting that WAS covers Great Britain (2010/12) and HMRC covers United Kingdom (5th April 2011)

Figure 5.F: Percentage difference in median ISA wealth, by age, noting that WAS covers Great Britain (2010/12) and HMRC covers United Kingdom (5th April 2011)
Source: Wealth and Assets Survey - Office for National Statistics, HM Revenue and Customs

Notes:

  1. Excludes individuals without ISA wealth.

Download chart

 

The median ISA values are similar where all ISA holders are considers; median ISA wealth differed by only 2% where WAS and HMRC estimates are compared. Some differences are noticed when considering values broken down by different age groups. The difference is most pronounced in the 25-34 age group, for which WAS produces median estimates which are 39% higher. In contrast, median estimates are notably lower for the 65 and over age group, with females showing the highest  difference with WAS median ISA wealth at £9,000 and official HMRC figures being £14,600 (a difference of 38 per cent).

A number of considerations need to be made where attempts are made to compare these two sources. HMRC data are for the United Kingdom, whereas WAS only surveys households in Great Britain. Furthermore,  WAS data covers those surveyed any time between July 2010 and June 2012, and the HMRC figures relate to specific ISA market values on 5th April 2011.

Number of individuals with ISAs

WAS estimates that 17.6 million adults have an ISA in 2010/12. This is lower than HMRC’s estimate that around 24.4 million adults have ISAs.

Comparison of aggregate market value of ISA funds

In 2010/12, WAS estimates total ISA wealth as £249.8 billion, whereas HMRC estimates that total ISA wealth on the 5th April 2012 was £388.1 billion2

FRS Savings and Investments Data

The following section examines how published savings and investment statistics from the Family Resources Survey (FRS) compares with WAS data. The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a major Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sponsored study. The study provides detailed information on the income, circumstances and living conditions of a representative cross-section of UK households.
 
Like with the ISA statistics from HMRC, a number of factors need to be considered when attempting comparisons between the two sources.  FRS data used for comparison purposes covers a time period of 2010 to 2011, whereas wave three of WAS covers 2010 to 2012. Furthermore, FRS surveys households in the United Kingdom, whereas WAS only surveys households in Great Britain.

Percentage of households with formal financial assets

FRS estimated that 93% of households have a current account, compared with 96% of households estimated by WAS. However, when looking at the definitions of the different types of assets in WAS and FRS, it might not be suitable to compare those figures directly.

FRS estimates that 97% of households have any Direct Payment Account, which is any account that accepts electronic payment of benefits via the BACS system. This can include current accounts, basic bank accounts, post office card accounts and other types of savings and investment accounts. This figure is more comparable to the WAS figure since Current Account in WAS includes current accounts, basic bank accounts and post office card accounts. WAS estimates that 96% of households have a current account which is 1 percentage point lower than the FRS estimate.
FRS estimates that 21% and 3% of households had premium bonds and national savings bonds respectively. WAS estimates that 22% of households had National Savings bonds (certificates) and premium bonds.
 
FRS estimates that 40% of households have an ISA, compared with 48% estimated by WAS.
WAS estimates that 5% of households had a unit or investment trust, 1 percentage point higher than the FRS estimate that 4% of households had a unit trust. 

Figure 5.G: Comparison of financial assets in WAS and FRS, noting that WAS covers Great Britain (2010/12) and FRS covers United Kingdom (2010/11)

WAS 2010/12 FRS 2010/11
All current accounts 96 97 Direct Payment Account1
Savings accounts 58 5 NS&I Savings account
46 Other Bank/Building Society account
ISAs   48 40 ISA
National Savings certificates and bonds2 22 21 Premium Bonds
3 National Savings Bonds
UK shares 12 17 Stocks and shares/member of a Share club
Overseas shares 2
Employee shares and share options 6 3 Company Share Scheme/profit sharing
Unit/Investment trusts 5 4 Unit trusts
Other formal financial assets 1 1 Any other type of asset
Any formal financial asset   98 98 Any type of account (including POCA)

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. The definition of Direct Payment Account in FRS is the most similar to the definition of a Current Account in WAS.
  2. Includes premium bonds.

Download table

 

HMRC Child Trust Funds data

Table 5.H presents a comparison of figures on Child Trust Funds for Great Britain from WAS against official figures produced by HMRC for 2011/12. Possible reasons for a lower estimate from WAS include: firstly, if children were less than one year old at the time of the survey, an account may not yet have been opened on their behalf; secondly, the survey may have underreported children with CTFs if the adult interviewed about a child was unaware that an account had been opened – either by another adult with responsibility for the child or by HM Revenue and Customs; thirdly, HMRC’s data reflects value during the second half of the WAS survey period covering 2010/12, and may have increased to reflect additional deposits, accumulation of interest, and so on. Children born from 2nd January 2011 onwards were no longer entitled to open a Child Trust Fund account.

Table 5.H: Child Trust Funds: Great Britain, WAS (2010/12) compared with Great Britain, HMRC (2011/12)

    WAS HMRC
Value of assets held in accounts (£ millions)      3,542      4,122
Number of accounts held (thousands)      5,475      5,791

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. HMRC Great Britain figures based on summed regional values.

Download table


Notes for Quality assuring financial wealth data

  1. HMRC statistics homepage: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/isas.htm
  2. Table 9.6: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/isas/table9-6.xls

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.