8.7 million people report economic abuse

A study carried out jointly by the Co-operative Bank and Refuge five years on from launching their landmark campaign to tackle economic abuse, has discovered that approximately 16% of all UK adults identify as having experienced economic abuse in their current or former relationship but the numbers may be higher as more than twice as many have experienced economically abusive behaviours. More than 1.5 million adults (3%) saw such abuse begin during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report makes new recommendations for change, following the 2015 report which led to the introduction of the UK finance industry’s Financial Abuse Code of Practice. It sets out voluntary guidelines to help the financial services industry better identify and address the needs of someone experiencing economic abuse.

Nearly two out of five UK adults (39%) – approximately 20 million people – have experienced economically abusive behaviour in a current or former relationship. Despite this, only 16% of people describe, or recognise, their experiences as abuse.

The Know Economic Abuse campaign aims to raise awareness of the true scale of economic abuse in the UK. Economic Abuse (sometimes called financial abuse) occurs when someone attempts to control another’s ability to acquire, maintain access to, or use money or other economic resources on a sustained basis. This can include behaviour such as stopping someone from working, taking someone’s money, preventing someone from accessing their own or joint bank accounts, or putting debts in their name.

According to the findings in the report, economic abuse most commonly begins early on in a relationship (18%), but other key milestones can trigger it such as moving in together (16%), getting married (12%), or at the point a couple formally joins their finances (8%). Many people also experience economically abusive behaviour from former partners during and after separation, such as damage or theft of property, or spending money from a joint account without consent.

If you have or are concerned you are in a relationship where you are experiencing financial abuse, speak to one of our family solicitors in confidence about your circumstances and options. During lockdown we are able to offer virtual appointments on a variety of platforms to cater for all circumstances.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Ipswich Divorce Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk