A THIRD of adults locally were likely to take on extra gap if faced with a sudden gap in their finances even before the impact of the coronavirus, research has found.

The research, from insolvency body R3, found 14 per cent of people in the south east were most likely to use a credit card if faced with a sudden need for money.

Ten per cent would ask family or friend for a loan, seven per cent would use their overdraft and one per cent would apply for a bank loan.

Nearly half said they would use personal savings.

The research by Savanta ComRes came just before the coronavirus crisis dealt a blow to countless household budgets.

Garry Lee, Southampton-based chairman of R3’s Southern and Thames Valley region, said: “A high proportion of adults in the south east are very vulnerable to financial shocks.

“It’s encouraging that almost half of adults in the region have a financial cushion available to them, but it’s equally discouraging that plenty of others would feel forced to borrow to cover a gap in their finances.”

Mr Lee, senior manager in the recovery and restructuring services department at accountancy firm Smith and Williamson’s Southampton office, added: “Low interest rates do make borrowing more affordable in the short term, but getting into debt can make that gap in finances even bigger over time.

“It can lead to a cycle of debt and stress which is hard to break, especially when emergency borrowing is added to existing debt.”

Three per cent of adults would cover a gap in finances by not paying rent, utility or telecoms bills.

Mr Lee said: “Skipping other bills is an option of last resort, and it’s a concern that some people find themselves in this situation. Skipping bills can store up problems for later.”

The percentage of people in the south east prepared to use a credit card was the third highest in Britain.

Nationally, homeowners are significantly more likely to say that they would be most likely to use personal savings to address an unexpected gap in their personal finances (55 per cent) than those living in rented accommodation (34 per cent).

Adults aged 18-34 were significantly more likely than over-55s to say that asking family or friends for a loan or support would be one of their top three most likely solutions.

Mr Lee said: “The first step for anyone who is concerned that what they owe may outstrip what they earn – even if it’s temporary – is to speak to a qualified expert, like an insolvency professional.

“They’ll be able to help you fully understand your finances and the options you have for resolving the issues you face. And the sooner you seek advice, the more options you’ll have – and the more time you will have to make a decision about how you move forward.”