Half million young women out of work need to be given a reason to vote

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Half a million young women out of work need to be given a reason to vote, says Young Women’s Trust

YWTData released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that 474,000 women aged 16-24, are out of work and full-time education. Those who are working face stagnating wages, as pay growth has slowed to 2.1 per cent. The cost of living continues to increase, with yesterday’s inflation figures reaching 2.7 per cent. Commenting, Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“Today’s figures show that half a million young women are now out of work and full-time education. Those in work face stagnating wages, while the cost of food and other basics is rising. This is making life even harder for thousands of young women – many of whom are already skipping meals and using food banks in a struggle to make ends meet.

“Young women tell us they want to work and be able to live independently, but insecure work, low pay and a lack of jobs are holding them back. It’s not just families that are losing out from this but businesses and the economy too.

“Millions of young women’s votes are at stake in this election. Politicians must commit to improving young people’s prospects – or even more will be driven to food banks and the economy will suffer. Young Women’s Trust is calling on all parties to pledge to invest in jobs and skills for young women, improve support at job centres and end the discrimination that sees young people paid less than their older counterparts for the same work.”


Notes to editor:

  1. The Office for National Statistics today published UK labour market data and average weekly earnings data for the period from January 2017 to March 2017.
  2. The data shows that 131,000 women aged 16-24 are unemployed and not in full-time education. They are actively seeking work. A further 343,000 women aged 16-24 are classed as “economically inactive” and not in full-time education. They are “economically inactive” because they are not able to seek work currently or not able to start work immediately – often due to childcare. They do not count as “unemployed”. 257,000 men aged 16-24 are economically inactive and not in full-time education – 86,000 fewer than the number of women.
  3. The data also shows that regular pay growth (which excludes bonuses) grew by 2.1 per cent in the three months to March 2017. This was lower than the 2.7 per cent rate of inflation in March that was announced yesterday.
  4. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  5. Young Women’s Trust’s general election manifesto was published last week. It can be found in full here and it calls on the next government to:
    a) Invest in jobs and skills for young women, including by increasing the £3.50 an hour minimum wage for apprentices
    b) Improve employment support for young women, including at the job centre, to ensure it is flexible, personalised and responsive to their needs
    c) End the age discrimination against young people that sees under-25s paid less money than older workers for the same jobs, despite having the same living costs
    d) Make work an affordable option for people with caring responsibilities by moving towards year-round free childcare, improving maternity rights for the self-employed and making flexible working the default
    e) Mainstream gender across government by assessing the impact of all policies on women and ensuring Brexit does not disadvantage young women

6. There are nearly three million (2,875,994) women aged 18 to 24 living in the UK, according to ONS population statistics.

7. Recent YouGov polling has found that a quarter (24 per cent) of women aged 18 to 24 are undecided about how to vote. 60 per cent said they were not “absolutely certain” to vote (compared to the national average of 42 per cent). The fieldwork for this poll was carried out between 2 and 20 April 2017 and the data tables can be found here.

8. Young mothers in particular are facing financial hardships. Young Women’s Trust’s latest report, ‘What matters to young mums?’ (23 March 2017) found that:
a) 27 per cent were currently using food banks or had used them in the past;
b) 46 per cent regularly missed meals in order to provide for their children
c) 61 per cent were “only just managing financially”;
d) when asked about the financial situation in their household on a scale of one to five, with five being “extremely worried”, 23 per cent gave a ranking of four and 11 per cent gave a ranking of five; and
e) one in four had left a job because they couldn’t afford childcare.

9. Young Women’s Trust released a report looking into the reasons behind young women’s economic inactivity on 30 November 2016. The research shows that a third of economically inactive women want to work now and 86 per cent at some point in the future but they are not given the support they need.

10. For more information or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org.