On the edge

13 October 2020

We are all facing unprecedented challenges in 2020 as coronavirus takes its toll on our health, global economies, and the very fabric of society. But if you are young, a woman, and living in London right now, you face a triple threat of disadvantage, as the research in this report sets out.

Our research found five specific challenges for young women on low incomes in London in 2020:

  • More young women are losing their jobs and job vacancies are down
  • The pressures of unpaid work have increased
  • Many young women are trapped in unsuitable housing
  • A ‘perfect storm’ of pressures has exacerbated the existing mental health crisis
  • Young women facing discrimination and disadvantage pre-pandemic have been the hardest hit.

We also found a significant data gap in terms of the gender and protected characteristics of those most affected by job losses. This means the government doesn’t have the information needed to plan an effective recovery.

We make recommendations in this report about action we can take now to mitigate immediate hardship for young women, and to ensure a stronger and fairer recovery for London. These include reskilling programmes, improved access to childcare, recognition of unpaid work, protection from eviction, an urgent response to the mental health crisis, targeted support for hardest hit groups and better data on job losses so we can divert resources to where they are needed most.

This an opportunity to fix a system that wasn’t working anyway. Over the last year, many things thought to be impossible, such as home working, have become a daily reality. Now is the time to start making fair-paid, rewarding careers in supportive workplaces possible for this generation of young women in London, and all those to come, by delivering our key recommendations. We must also take urgent action to protect the young women driven to crisis point by the many compounding factors we set out in this report, before it’s too late.