According to the bank’s study, during the third quarter of 2006, almost a third of under-30s (31%) were forced to raid their savings in order to meet the payments of unexpected bills.

Meanwhile, just 22% of over-50s raided savings to pay for unexpected bills in the quarter and one in four (26%) people aged between 30 and 50 years old dipped into savings.

Women are apparently less prepared than men for unexpected bills (26% needed to raid their savings, compared with 24% of men in Q3).

Across the regions, Londoners may be the least prepared for unexpected bills over winter. Almost one in three (31%) Londoners had no choice but to use their savings to pay for bills throughout the third quarter of 2006. They were followed closely by 30% of unprepared Scots. In contrast, Northerners proved a shining example with just one in five (21%) relying on savings to cover unexpected bills.