Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Real-time monitoring of personal finances through the coronavirus pandemic


Project overview

The pandemic is leading to large, widely-varying income losses. Understanding who is experiencing them, and whether they are coping, is vital for the government to target support both immediately and in the recovery. This project will use real-time data to describe what is happening to people’s finances.

Using non-personalised data from budgeting app Money Dashboard, which combines information from all of people’s bank accounts and credit card transactions, IFS will follow a large sample of around 100,000 individuals. It will analyse changes to incomes, spending and savings before the pandemic started and track changes since the lockdown – and how these vary according to pre-crisis incomes, gender, location and age.


The overall aim is to inform government and the wider public about the short and medium-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s finances including payment problems, changes to spending and savings, and the effectiveness of government policies. In particular:

  • An assessment of the Job Retention Scheme;
  • An assessment of how the self-employed fare as they await receipt of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), and after they get it;
  • An analysis of new benefit recipients – in particular the time between a fall in earnings and receiving benefits, and the extent of financial difficulties before and after payment.