Young Women’s Trust survey reveals youth debt epidemic

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Young Women’s Trust survey reveals youth debt epidemic 

YWTAs prices increase and wages stagnate, a new Young Women’s Trust survey shows a quarter of young people in the UK are constantly in debt. Nearly half of young people borrow money, work extra hours or skip meals to make their cash last to the end of the month. 

The charity, which supports young women on low or no pay, commissioned Populus Data Solutions to carry out a survey of more than 4,000 young people. The results show an epidemic of debt among young people, with many only being able to make it to the end of the month by relying on overdrafts, credit cards, pay day lenders and the bank of mum and dad. 

Young women were found to be struggling more with long-term debt than men and 51 per cent had to take measures like borrowing money or skipping meals to get to the end of the month (compared to 45 per cent of young men). A quarter of both young women and young men said their level of debt had got worse in the past year. 

When asked how young people make their cash last to the end of the month, one in five said they go into their overdraft and a similar number borrow from family. This was closely followed by using a credit card. One in ten young people said they had used a payday loan company; for parents, this number increased to one in four. 

There was little hope for the future too; just 39 per cent of young people expect to be debt-free by the time they are 40. As the Bank of England gears up to raise interest rates in the near future, the worry is many young people will be pushed further into debt. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive, Dr Carole Easton OBE, said: 

“Young people tell us they want to work hard and be financially independent but as prices rise and wages remain low, more and more are struggling.

“Young women are more likely to be stuck on low pay and on zero hours contracts, which mean they don’t know how many hours they will work each month and whether they will earn enough to pay their bills. It can be particularly hard for young mums; in many cases, low pay means an hour’s childcare can cost more than an hour’s wages. As a result, many are failing to make ends meet and are falling into debt. 

“Much more needs to be done to improve young people’s prospects. This means giving them the right skills and support to find jobs, ensuring decent and flexible jobs are available and paying a proper living wage that doesn’t discriminate against age. This would benefit businesses and the economy too.”  

Young Women’s Trust will publish its full survey in a new report, ‘Worrying Times’, at the end of September. 

ENDS 

Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to conduct a survey of young people. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year-olds in England and Wales, from the Populus Live Online Panel, were surveyed between 4 and 14 July 2017.
  2. The survey shows that:
  • 24 per cent of young people are in debt all of the time (25 per cent of young women and 23 per cent of young men);
  • 48 per cent of young people had to borrow money to make their cash last to the end of the month (51 per cent of young women and 45 per cent of young men);
  • 25 per cent of young people also said their level of debt had got worse in the past year; and
  • just 39 per cent of young people expect to be debt-free by the time they are 40.
  1. In order to make ends meet each month, young people are borrowing money:
  • 20 per cent go into their overdraft (22 per cent of young women and 18 per cent of young men);
  • 18 per cent borrow or are given money by their family (21 per cent of young women and 16 per cent of young men);
  • 14 per cent put purchases on a credit card (17 per cent of young women and 12 per cent of young men);
  • 14 per cent work additional hours (15 per cent of young women and 14 per cent of young men); and
  • 11 per cent skip meals.
  1. When asked if they had ever taken out a payday loan, nine per cent of young people had (10 per cent of young women and eight per cent of young men). 24 per cent of parents aged 18-30 had borrowed money from a payday loan company, compared to six per cent of non-parents.
  2. 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.

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

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