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8.7 million people report experiencing economic abuse

1.6 million see this begin as a result of COVID-19 pandemic

Approximately 16 per cent 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 per cent) saw their economic abuse begin during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figures are revealed in the report Know Economic Abuse published by Co-operative Bank and Refuge – five years on from launching their landmark campaign to tackle economic abuse. 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, a set of 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 per cent) – approximately 20 million people – have experienced economically abusive behaviour in a current or former relationship, according to the report launched today by The Co-operative Bank and Refuge, the UK's largest national domestic abuse charity. Despite this, only 16 per cent 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. Nearly a million people (10 per cent of all who have experienced economic abuse) are currently in relationships with people who are abusing them economically.

Economic abuse most commonly begins early on in a relationship (18 per cent), but other key milestones can trigger it – such as moving in together (16 per cent), getting married (12 per cent), or at the point a couple formally joins their finances (8 per cent). 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 (24 per cent).

For the report, click here. For an article, by Rebecca Christie of Hunters, explaining the protections available to a divorcing client who has suffered economic abuse from their spouse, click here.

24 October 2020