Lockdown one year on: majority of young women feel let down by government’s pandemic response

18 March 2021

One year on from the first Covid-19 lockdown, 86% of young women said they felt that the government response to the pandemic had made things worse for people like them as the devastating impact on young women’s work, finances and mental health continues, according to a new report from Young Women’s Trust.

Lockdown one year on: how young women are paying the price for the pandemic draws on findings from a new survey of young women aged 18 to 30 in England and Wales and insights from the young women the charity has directly supported in the past 12 months.

Following on from research Young Women’s Trust published in November 2020 which found that 1.5 million young women had lost income since the start of the pandemic, Young Women’s Trust’s new report finds that:

  • 83% of young women said that their mental health had suffered, and more than half (55%) said they had experienced depression in the last year.
  • One in seven of those unable to work from home said they have been working without proper protection or safety equipment.
  • One in ten young women said they have been unable to afford food or other essentials.
    Young women also reported the pressure of juggling work with unpaid caring responsibilities, a lack of mental health support and the impact of domestic abuse.

The report also draws on analysis from an Emergency Fund that Young Women’s Trust launched in response to the pandemic. Of young women who have so far received support from the Young Women’s Trust Emergency Fund:

  • 75% had used food banks or been dependent on others for food donations.
  • 58% were unemployed or in insecure employment and had lost income as a result of the pandemic.
  • 56% received or were waiting to receive state benefits.

“I have had to move in with an abusive family member through having nowhere else to go after losing my job, prosecuting someone for assault while you live where they spend all their time is hard.” Anon

“Being a young woman in employment, renting privately has left me in a terrible financial situation. It has forced me to cohabit with a short-term partner in order for me to be able to buy essentials.” Kirsty

Joe Levenson, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Young Women’s Trust: 

“Young women, especially those struggling to live in low or no pay, have reached crisis point after a year of seeing their voices and needs largely ignored by the government during the pandemic. Even before the coronavirus crisis, many young women were struggling to make ends meet and the last year has had a devastating impact on their finances, safety and mental health.

As we look ahead it is vital that no young woman is left behind as the country seeks to rebuild after one of the most extraordinary and damaging years in many decades. That’s why we are calling on the government to provide essential support, including through making the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to Carer’s Allowance, increasing funding for mental health support and investing in jobs and training for young women. It’s also essential that the government is transparent about the impact of measures it is taking on young women, which is why it must gather better data and publish Equalities Impact assessments of all major policies and legislation.”


Notes to Editors

  • Between 27 January and 19 February 2021, Young Women’s Trust hosted a survey on its website, receiving 315 responses from young women aged 18 to 30. The survey asked a number of questions about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s response. While not set up as a nationally representative survey of young women, the findings provide important insight into the challenges faced by many young women.
  • The report also includes quotes from in-depth interviews conducted by young women peer researchers with 36 young women who had used our Work it Out coaching and CV feedback service.
  • At the end of March 2020, Young Women’s Trust launched an Emergency Fund appeal in response to the pandemic to distribute support quickly to young women to enable them to buy food and other essentials. Young Women’s Trust raised funds to support 2,500 young women, and worked with national referral partners, to distribute grants via a network of over 100 frontline women’s services.