The Bradford-based society said that some 11m people in the UK aged between 16 and 64 do not save, 7.5m of whom are in work.
Just 4.5 per cent of gross household income in the UK is saved as compared with 17.3 per cent in Germany and 17.6 per cent in Sweden.
Writing in today’s Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Building Society chief executive Mike Regnier said that he wants the society to spearhead a campaign to ‘save first’ culture, encourage more businesses to aid their workforce in saving money and help improve financial education among adults and children.
Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Regnier said: “The financial sector probably has not been encouraging customers to save.
“Banks in the main are more interested in getting people to save and to borrow than they are to save, because that is clearly where they make their money. So the odds are stacked against the customer.
“Culturally it is not encouraged any more, there is no one in Government saying ‘you should be saving, it is good for you’. We are used to instant satisfaction and credit and the idea of if you can afford it you buy it and if you can’t afford it borrow and buy it anyway. That is why we have been as bold as we can be with this campaign.
“We know that having an amount you can turn to an emergency is the single best way you can give them that resilience that stops them getting that stress associated with money worries and keeps them out of debt, which we know is a massive problem.”
YBS has launched an internal financial well-being programme alongside Salary Finance to give staff a direct-from-salary savings option, with Mr Regnier encouraging other firms to follow suit.
“A lot of companies look at physical health, some look at mental health but there are not a lot of companies that look at financial health,” he said.
“For us there is an awful lot of research that points to the link between financial resilience and a number of other aspects of how people feel and particularly how they work.
“Forty nine per cent of adults have the numeracy skill of a child, which is worrying.
“A lot of progress has been made on literacy in the past decade or two but much less on adult numeracy which has actually gone backwards.”