Negative Budgets Survey
Citizens Advice is doing some work to understand people’s experiences of financial difficulty. Many people we help regularly end the week or month without enough money to cover essential costs such as their rent, mortgage, household bills, food costs, care costs, or debt repayments.
When people have £0 or less after paying for those costs, it is called a negative budget.
We want to understand how many people this affects and the impact of having a negative budget. We’re especially interested in gathering responses from people who have got debt or are looking for debt or money advice.
There are no right or wrong answers to the questions below, we are keen to hear about your experiences and just ask that you respond to the best of your knowledge.
In the survey we will ask for your contact details if you are happy to be contacted about participating in further research through a short interview. People who participate in an interview will receive a £30 voucher. You will not receive a voucher for completing this survey.
We will use the feedback in this survey to build an understanding of the financial challenges people face and to collect consent to be contacted in the future.
We are unable to give advice through this survey or in the interview, but you can seek help from our website (
) which will also explain how to contact your local Citizens Advice office.
In the survey we ask for the information we need to tell your story or inform our research. This might include information about: your situation and how it affects you, your name and contact details - so we can keep in touch with you, and information like your ethnicity, employment status or age. This information is collected in order to inform whether particular groups are experiencing different problems or are being unfairly affected. If you don't want to give us some personal details, you don't have to.
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, please contact Jasmin Matin - Senior Policy Researcher at
or on 03000 231785
1. After covering your essential costs, e.g. rent or mortgage, essential food, council tax, household bills, childcare how much money does your household tend to have left at the end of a normal month?
We are/I am unable to cover essential costs
£1,000 or more
2. After covering your essential costs e.g. rent or mortgage, essential food, council tax, household bills, childcare, are you left with money to cover your credit commitments e.g credit card, personal loan, catalogue repayments etc.
Yes, but not enough so I’m left with a ‘negative budget’ - £0 or less after making the repayments
No, we are/I am unable to cover our credit commitment repayments
3. In the last 12 months (i.e. since November 2018), has your financial situation resulted in any of the following? Please select all that apply
Caused me to lose sleep
Made me feel lonely/isolated
Affected my mental health
Affected my performance at work
Affected my relationship with my partner/spouse
Affected my relationship with my child/children
Affected my relationship with my friends or other family members
Prevented me from taking part in community activities
Held me back from achieving other life goals
None of the above
4. If you said that you are unable to cover essential costs or have £0 left over after essentials in a normal month in Q1, what would you say are the main reasons for having little disposable income within the last 12 months (i.e. since November 2018)? Please select all that apply.
Not enough pay/income
Underemployment (i.e. unable to work as many hours as you would like)
Low pension income
Not enough benefit income
Deductions from benefits
Waiting period for 1st benefit payment
Refusal of benefits
Costs of essential services (i.e. energy, water)
Inability to access credit
Cost of childcare
Cost of debt/credit repayments
5. Please continue to think about the last year (i.e. since November 2018). Which, if any of the following have you/an adult in your household done in order to meet essential costs (e.g. food, rent, utility bills, council tax etc.)? Please select all that apply.
Ignored or delayed paying a bill or making a loan repayment
Paid for food, mortgage or rent using savings
Paid for other essentials using savings
Paid for food, mortgage or rent using a credit card
Paid for other essentials using a credit card
Paid for food, mortgage or rent using an overdraft
Paid for other essentials using an overdraft
Paid for food, mortgage or rent by borrowing from friends or family
Paid for other essentials by borrowing from friends or family
Taken out a new bank or credit union loan
Taken out a doorstep loan
Taken out a payday loan
Bought items using a rent-to-own scheme
Sold or pawned household goods which you wouldn't otherwise have sold
Gone without heating or electricity
Gone without food and other essential goods
None of these
Prefer not to say
6. We may wish to hear more about the experiences you have shared with us. If you would be happy for us to contact you, please provide your contact details (email address and/or telephone number).
7. Which of the following age brackets do you fall into?
8. What is your ethnic group? Choose one option that best describes your ethnic group or background
Gypsy or Irish Traveller
White and Black Caribbean
White and Black African
White and Asian
Black/ African/Caribbean/Black British
9. Which of these applies to you?
Working full time (30 or more hours per week)
Working part time (8-29 hours per week)
Working part time (Less than 8 hours a week)
Full time student
Other not working
10. Which of the following best describes your main home?
Own with a mortgage / loan
Rented from local authority
Rented from private landlord
Rented from housing association
Live rent-free (including rent-free in your parents /another relative’s / a friend’s property)
Live in no fixed accommodation
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