Nearly 9 out of 10 people (88 per cent) are confident that they are in control when they spend money, although half of these admit to occasional acts of impulsive or reckless spending. Only three per cent of people felt they were totally out of control when it comes to spending.

The nation’s personal debt may have hit a trillion pounds for the first time this year, but, when it comes to spending, an overwhelming majority of Britons believe they are in control when it comes to managing their money, according to MORI research conducted for www.moneybasics.co.uk - the new website set up to meet the need for simple, clear, independent information about money.

When it comes to spending money Britons claim to identify far more with the cut-your-cloth prudence of suburban downsizers, Tom and Barbara Good, from the popular TV sitcom, than with the brand obsession and designer-labels associated with David and Victoria Beckham.

Interpreting the results, psychologist professor Cary Cooper of the University of Lancaster said: "This survey says a lot about attitudes to spending - and to debt - as we run into one of the highest spending times in the year. If all we read and hear about consumer debt is true, then the findings could indicate a significant degree of denial. Identifying more with the Goods than the Beckhams suggests Britons prefer the idea of themselves spending carefully to balance the books, and resisting the bling-bling stereotypes imposed on them by others."

"Although Britons are a trillion pounds in debt, the vast majority see themselves as down to earth and sensible when it comes to their own spending. For some this would reflect controlled spending but unfortunately for many other consumers this could indicate a strong sense of denial."

Keith Tondeur, Credit Action, the UK’s leading debt charity, and a partner in MoneyBasics, agreed that Britain could be a nation of consumers in denial, saying:

"There is perhaps a comfort factor to seeing that so many people have the belief and attitude that they are in control of their finances. However, it has to be a real concern when, in many cases, the facts about consumer debt simply don’t back that idea up. In the run up to Christmas a key concern for MoneyBasics is the millions of Britons who may get into financial difficulty but do not recognise that their spending is a problem. Part of the solution to this problem is access to good information, and our research also indicated that 13 million British adults claim to find it hard to get simple, independent money advice. MoneyBasics was set up to address that need, and we hope that it can play an important role in doing so."

www.moneybasics.co.uk went live in November with the goal of providing accessible, ‘no nonsense’ information to help consumers manage their money and received 35,000 hits in the first week of launch.