Millions of Brits would struggle to pay just one month’s bills if they were to stop earning their regular income, new research has revealed.

According to a study by Barclays, 16m people wouldn’t be able to cover a month’s essential outgoings with their cash savings.

The research also revealed a short-term approach to savings, with just 21% of people saving a regular amount each month and frequently dipping into their saving pot.

Barclays found that a third of people (31%) don’t have a regular savings pattern and save depending on their circumstances.

An estimated 40m people (80% of UK adults) have some form of savings, with 65% saying they would feel uncomfortable without anything saved up.

Barclays’ savings and consumer expert Clare Francis said: “It’s the time of year when many of us resolve to get our finances in shape and savings is a good place to start.

Barclays’ savings expert said people should be aware of their spending habits and outgoings

“However, as our research shows, whilst people recognise that having some savings is important, many don’t have enough money saved to protect themselves in the event of something unforeseen happening.”

She said people should be fully of aware of their spending habits and outgoings so they can work out how long their savings would last.

“This helps give peace of mind in case something unexpected happens. And being confident about the state of your finances in the short term, makes it easier to then plan for longer-term financial goals,” added Ms Francis.

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David Haigh, director of financial capability for the Money Advice Service, said: “Barclays’ research highlights that UK consumers understand the value and importance of saving, but often struggle to turn this into a regular savings habit.

Do you have enough saved up to deal with financial shocks such as the car breaking down?

“Our own research has found that people in the UK have a ‘spend today’ rather than ‘save for tomorrow’ culture.

“Four in ten adults have less than £500 in savings to cover unexpected bills like replacing the fridge or mending the car.”

Mr Haigh said organisations needed to work together to “tackle the savings gap” and make it easier for people to build up a savings buffer to protect against financial shocks.

“There are a wide range of organisations with important roles to play in helping people in the UK to save for the future and achieve their financial goals.

“The Financial Capability Strategy for the UK creates a huge opportunity to work together on this shared aim.”

Barclays’ figures were calculated using data from a YouGov survey of 2,000 UK adults and population estimates from the Office of National Statistics.