‘Costing Our Futures’ cost of living call to government

Young Women’s Trust responds to the cost of living crisis and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2022 outlining government actions that are not going far enough to address the concerns of young women:

New research released by the charity Young Women’s Trust shows that over three fifths of young women (62%) say that their future prospects have got worse over the last six months. This compares to only a fifth of young women who felt this way in spring this year, when the charity conducted their annual survey.  

As part of a new campaign ‘Costing our Futures’, the charity wants to highlight the lack of confidence that young women have in the new government to support them to create a brighter future. The campaign also shows that despite some measures announced in the Autumn Statement, the deepening cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on young women. 

The survey also showed that only 15% of young women feel very confident that the Prime Minister and his government will listen and respond to the challenges that they face. However, young women want to have a say in political decisions: 82% of young women are likely to vote if there is a general election in the next 12 months and 77% feel that that there should be a general election held right now. 

The cost of living crisis remains high on young women’s agenda and half say that they have little or no trust in the government to provide the necessary support. When asked what the government should prioritise in the first 100 days in office, the cost of living crisis was a main focus: 

  • Extending the National Living Wage to those under the age of 23 (88%) 
  • Guaranteeing genuinely affordable childcare that enables young women to work the hours they need to (88%)
  • Increasing benefits so that they cover the rising cost of living (81%).

Keira from Nottingham is a single parent to her son and knows only too well the impact of the cost of living crisis.  

“I claim Universal Credit but once all my outgoings are paid – which are increasing – I have little money left for anything else. Not even food. A big worry for me now is that I’m facing a debt recovery plan with my energy provider as, after lots of back and forth, we’ve found that my smart meter has been faulty since I moved in. It’s really worrying and I just want to get it sorted – it must be happening to so many other people.  

“I don’t know where to turn and my mental health is really suffering. I do have foodbanks available to me and I’m very grateful but they’re getting smaller due to the demand as so many people are relying on them. Sometimes I get food that’s past its sell-by date or foods that I just do not know how to cook. Some food also comes with no labels so you don’t always know what you’re getting. As I said, I am so grateful but there are still problems. 

“I have been working voluntarily for a local charity and have recently been offered a permanent position. I’m so pleased as I don’t want to be stuck on benefits but it’s shocking that, whilst I should be excited and looking forward to my future with my son, I’m actually panicking that I’ll be worse off. When I’ve tried to work out my financial position, I’ll actually be no better off after starting in the role. It’s just not right.” 

Amy lives in a remote town in Wales, leaving her geographically isolated, and the cost of living crisis is only making things worse. She said:

“The cost of living crisis is really impacting on my future – my ultimate goal is to become a mental health professional, however to achieve this position I’m having to build my experience and spend three hours each day travelling to an office in a nearby city, which is incredibly draining mentally and also financially.  

“I have been working to the point of burnout to make enough money to rent closer to the city centre. But, because of the new rise in interest rates and the government failing to acknowledge the work of single independent people, I simply can’t afford it. Instead, I’m having to spend a third of what I earn just to travel to the office. I could continue to work from home but because of the rise of energy bills, I have consistent anxiety that I’ll be even worse off. I basically have to sacrifice my mental health and emotional wellbeing and get on with my 12-hour plus day. 

“I’m also having to downsize on my social life and I’m not seeing friends as often because I can’t justify the costs to travel to see them. I’m turning down opportunities for further support and development in my career because it all comes with a cost. Networking in a city over 50 miles away at unsociable times with no way of getting home is just impossible and a hotel is completely out of the question. It’s just heart-breaking that all of my efforts of working endlessly to support a life for myself are for nothing. Instead of dreaming of a future, I’m just trying to do my best to get through winter, warm and with a roof over my head, and with my mental health intact.”  

Claire Reindorp, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said:

“It’s a sad fact that young women are disproportionately affected by the rising cost of living because they earn less than young men to begin with. This is because they’re more likely to be working in lower paid jobs, more likely to be on benefits, and doing more childcare and other unpaid work.  

“Some of the measures in last week’s Autumn Statement will be welcomed by young women, but they don’t go far enough. We know the benefits will not rise until April next year, meaning a tough winter ahead for many. The national living wage will increase but will not include those under the age of 23, and childcare wasn’t included at all. “Young women are struggling to survive day to day. We need politicians who are responding to this crisis to really listen to these young women – hear about the horrendous living conditions because of the cost of living crisis; hear about the lack of flexible work which is keeping them at home; hear about the sexism and discrimination that is stopping them go further in their careers. 

“The country is now officially in recession and we must remember that young people and women are often the first to lose their jobs when times get tough. We can’t let this cost of living crisis cost young women their futures.” 

Young Women’s Trust have launched an open letter calling for the government to meet with young women and hear about the challenges they face and how they can act to make a difference to their lives. People can sign the open letter at sign our open letter to government. 

Notes to editors

For more information or interviews with Claire Reindorp, Keira Fawcett or other YWT case studies, please contact:

Hayley Richardson-Roberts, Communications Lead:

07495 981142 / Hayley.richardson-roberts@youngwomenstrust.org

About Young Women’s Trust:

Young Women’s Trust is the leading organisation championing young women aged 18 to 30 on low or no pay. We provide young women with practical support, undertake research to spotlight the realities of their lives and inform campaigns for greater economic justice. Young women are at the centre of the charity′s work: leading, designing and participating.