By Claire West

Since the start of the 'credit crunch' in 2007 and the subsequent economic downturn in 2008, over 30 million people believe that the average British family's standard of living has declined, according to Scottish Provident's Financial Safety Net report. Just one in seven (15%) feel it has improved during the same time period.

The future looks just as bleak, as the current tough economic climate coupled with talk of further redundancies and cutbacks across both the public and private sectors, has led 36% of Britons to predict their own standard of living to decline - either slightly or greatly by 2013. A lesser 24% believe that their personal standard of living will improve over the same timeframe, while a further 36% believe it will remain the same.

Almost half (45%) of the over 55s believe their personal standard of living will decline in the next three years, compared to just 22% of those aged between 18 and 34.

The majority of Britons (66%) state savings as the main factor which contributes to a reasonable standard. However, having broadband in the home is the top item to rate a reasonable standard of living for those aged between 18 and 34, with savings in second place.

Worryingly, 58% of people do not have any form of protection product in place at all, meaning the majority will find it tough to maintain any standard of living should the main breadwinner be unable to work.

While it may come as little surprise that having savings is the most popular indication of a reasonable standard of living, it is a concern that around one in three (31%) Britons state they will instead have to drastically cut back on their living costs should they or the main family breadwinner be diagnosed with a serious disability or illness, or die.
The importance of technology in today's world is clear as 62% of Britons believe having broadband or an internet connection at home constitutes having a reasonable standard of living, while nearly one in five (19%) believe the ability to pay for your child's tuition is important to maintain a good living standard.

Susan Barclay, Head of Marketing, Scottish Provident, said: "The last few years have hit many Britons hard, and our figures have underlined how people are generally not showing much optimism ahead of the start of 2013, as the austerity measures proposed by the coalition government begin to take effect. Given these concerns, it has never been more critical for individuals to ensure they have built up an adequate Financial Safety Net to try and combat any unexpected decline in their living standards.

"By building up their emergency savings and putting a protection policy in place to safeguard against the financial impact caused by a loss of job, loss of health or even loss of life, Britons can financially safeguard themselves and their family for whatever the future may hold. We would advise speaking to an independent financial adviser who can offer professional advice on how individuals can go about ensuring they are protected for the future."