Financial wellbeing in South East England

For many people in the South East, managing money day to day is a challenge, as it is the least affordable region to live in in the UK. Partnerships manager for the region Claudine Bell shares how the Money and Pensions Service can help your customers, colleagues and community.

Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control. It is about making the most of your money day to day, dealing with the unexpected, and being on track for a healthy financial future. In short: financially resilient, confident and empowered.

The economy of South East England

South East England consists of nine counties – Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex – and has the highest population of all the English regions with 9.2 million people.

The region’s close proximity to London and its rail network and connections to several national motorways have led to South East England becoming a prosperous economic hub, with the largest economy of any region in the UK after London.  The region is also one that is more varied than many other regions: The diversity of the region includes employment sectors such as agriculture and fishing, to high tech industry such as aerospace, biotech, pharmaceuticals, engineering and IT.

The region is home to Gatwick, the UK’s second-busiest airport, and to Southampton Airport. Heathrow Airport (the UK’s busiest) is adjacent to the region’s boundary with Greater London and provides business and employment opportunities for organisations and residents living in local areas.

Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control. It is about making the most of your money day to day, dealing with the unexpected, and being on track for a healthy financial future. In short: financially resilient, confident and empowered.

Signpost to our cost of living resources, including tools and articles.

Impact of EU exit on the local economy

The Channel Tunnel connection from Folkestone provides access to mainland Europe and the coastline along the English Channel provides many ferry and freight crossings to Europe and beyond.  10,000 freight vehicles pass through the Port of Dover alone on peak days.

There is a high propensity among businesses in the region to export.  The UK region with the highest value of exports was the South East, which exported £46.7 billion of goods, equal to 13% of the UK’s total value of goods exports. (HMRC, Regional Trade Statistics 2020) The region maybe more vulnerable than most to the impacts of the UK’s EU exit on export trade.

Impact of the pandemic on South East England

Levels of debt

Despite the strong regional economy, before the Covid-19 outbreak, over 1.1 million people in the South East were over-indebted, of whom 43% live in Hampshire and Kent.

Most affected sectors

There is a strong correlation between workers on low-income and those being furloughed or made redundant and across the region. It is estimated that over 530,000 jobs are at risk due to Covid-19. (HMRC Job Retention Scheme, March 2021)

Tourism is a key economic benefit to the region, and was worth over £13 billion pre-Covid-19, and second only to the capital city.  Over 1 million people are employed in retail, accommodation and food services, arts, entertainment and recreation, and transport, some of the sectors hardest hit by the economic impact of Covid-19. 

Average pay in the five sectors hardest hit by the pandemic is around £10.60 per hour.

(Source: McKinsey)

Because of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the travel sector, Crawley, the home of Gatwick Airport, has the highest employment vulnerability of any town or city in the UK.  80% of the town’s jobs are impacted or vulnerable. (Consolidated data, West Sussex County Council)

Effect on small businesses

There are almost 1 million small and medium enterprises in the South East. Across the UK 24% are unsure about whether they’ll still be trading next year, due to the impact of the pandemic. Over half remain concerned about the future of their business and the impact on employment. (Simply Business, June 2021)

How MaPS can help your organisation

As partnerships manager for the South East, I can offer your organisation free, bespoke support to build financial wellbeing for your employees and customers.

Our consumer service, MoneyHelper, is here to make your money and pension choices clearer. Here to cut through the complexity, explain what you need to do and how you can do it. Here to put you in control with impartial guidance that’s backed by government and to recommend further, trusted support if you need it.

Signpost our money and pensions content in your communications to your colleagues, communities and customers.

Debt and redundancy help

Many of the region’s residents and employees can benefit from our support through our free guidance on the phone, online or via WhatsApp, and get help to address money worries. Employers can also order our free money guides in a range of accessible formats such as Braille, audio and large print.


Tools such as our Debt Advice Locator help you find where to get free debt advice.

Our help on redundancy details steps to help employees cope with losing a job.

Pensions help

Over 2 million people are of an age where they can benefit from our free one-to-one Pension Wise support as they count down towards retirement, while over 5 million can make use of our pensions guidance over the phone and online.  With around 160,000 pensioners already living in poverty in the region, it is important to take steps to assess and plan financially for your own retirement.

Explore our Pension Wise service for employers.

Housing help

Nearly a million homes in the region are rented, and property is among the most expensive in the UK to buy. There are over 300,000 homes in fuel poverty.

Whether your customers and colleagues are saving to protect themselves financially from the unexpected, or for a rental or mortgage deposit, we have guidance and tools to help them navigate through essential budgeting to assessing mortgage affordability and the cost of borrowing.

Browse our help for renters and buyers.

Learn more about our support for the housing sector.

Contact Claudine


Claudine is the Regional Manager for South East England. She is passionate about supporting the financial wellbeing of your residents, customers and employees. Claudine has over 15 years experience of working with stakeholders and organisations across medical, dental and legal sectors. Her focus has been around providing information and educational content regarding financial services including income protection and pensions.

Contact Claudine on to find out more about how your organisation could benefit from our support.

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Managing money in uncertain times

Guides to support your employees and customers affected by the pandemic or rising living costs