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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Callaghan

Down but not out

The recent report from the National Audit Office stating that personal debt is a problem for 8 million people and is costing the economy nearly £1 billion in terms of lower worker efficiency and greater employee absenteeism almost falls certainly into the "bad news" category.

But I wonder whether it might be possible to see a glimmer of hope even in such depressing statistics. This comes from the strength of human resilience and energy around money. For if many millions of people are managing to somehow scrape by even in such difficult circumstances - and there is no doubt many households are facing tremendous struggles - imagine the potential for the economy, society and these individuals if this energy could change direction and instead of basic financial survival people had the opportunity to work towards worthwhile financial goals.

Creativity and innovation at work would increase, stress levels fall, and general economic, social and psychological wellbeing improve.

Such a switch in direction would involve significant changes, at the level of government policy, in the remuneration strategies of employers and (crucially) in the way individuals recognise and channel their money energy. A move towards this more positive financial future is possible – but it needs a number of action points – the state needs to use policy and regulation to encourage fair remuneration and minimise the chances of predatory lending. Employers might re-imagine their relationship with workers and enable them to have a greater share in the prosperity of business. And workers? Well, they must take greater responsibility for improving their financial knowledge and skills, recognise the emotional triggers that drive some spending, reflect upon need versus want and begin a social movement which sees money serving individuals and not the other way around.

Taken together this would herald a shift in a more positive direction.

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