Facing The Squeeze: A Qualitative Study Of Household Finances And Access To Credit In A 21st-Century Recession

Collard, Sharon; Finney, Andrea and Crosswaite, Kate (2009). Facing The Squeeze: A Qualitative Study Of Household Finances And Access To Credit In A 21st-Century Recession. Money Advice Trust, Birmingham.


The Money Advice Trust commissioned this short exploratory research project to provide a snapshot of the views and experiences of people on low and middle incomes in the face of a 21st -century recession. In particular, it set out to examine in detail the extent to which worsening economic conditions in 2008/2009 had resulted in changes to conumers' spending, borrowing and money management.

The research comprised face-to-face depth interviews with 35 householders in England, Wales and Scotland, all of whom were credit users. While quantitative survey data can inform us about the number of people who behave in a certain way or hold certain views, the real strength of qualitative research is that it allows us to better understand how and why people behave in the way they do or hold particular views. It is not, however, intended to to be representative of the general population. The qualitative interview data collected in this research enables a depth of understanding about a range of coping responses people employ that it would be impossible for a quantitative survey to provide, not least because people's attitudes and behaviours are not always consistent.

The main focus of this study was credit-users living in low or middle income households. The people we interviewed were of working age and included mortgage-holders, private tenants, and tenants renting from a housing association or local authority. They were deliberately recruited to be credit users who did not report any arrears on household bills or credit commitments at the time of recruitment. However, the interviews subsequently revealed that a few of them were actually in arrears and several more had experienced debt problems in the recent past.

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