YWT report reveals a generation losing hope

Friday 29 September 2017

Young Women’s Trust report reveals a generation losing hope, as millions of young people struggle to make ends meet 

YWTA major new survey by Young Women’s Trust reveals a nation of anxious young people, as millions are struggling financially. Young women are consistently more likely than young men to face money problems, workplace discrimination and worries about the future. 

The ‘Worrying Times’ report, based on the charity’s annual Populus Data Solutions poll of more than 4,000 18-30 year-olds in England and Wales, shows that a third of young people (32 per cent) feel more anxious now than this time last year. Brexit, money worries and the cost of housing are the main reported causes of anxiety. Two in five (42 per cent) say leaving the EU is a cause of anxiety, followed by worries about being able to buy a home in the future (41 per cent) and their current financial position (37 per cent). Half of young people (47 per cent) say they feel worried for the future.  

The survey shows many young people feel like their lives are going backwards. When asked about their situation now compared to this time last year: 

  • a quarter of young women (25 per cent) and a fifth of young men (21 per cent) say their financial situation has got worse;
  • one in four (25 per cent) say their level of debt has got worse;
  • nearly a third (28 per cent) say opportunities for young people have got worse;
  • two in five (40 per cent) expect to have a less comfortable life than their parents;
  • a quarter (25 per cent) say their mental health has got worse, with 45 per cent of young women and 36 per cent of young men saying they are concerned about their mental health; and
  • there is little hope of change, as sixty per cent say their confidence in politicians has got worse. 

Financial pressures are particularly affecting young women. Two in five young women (41 per cent) said it was a real struggle to make their cash last until the end of the month, compared to 28 per cent of young men. Nearly half of young women (48 per cent) and 39 per cent of young men said it would be a big financial problem if they had to replace a large item such as a fridge or a washing machine this year. A third of young women (30 per cent) also report facing gender discrimination when working or looking for work, while 41 per cent of black and ethnic minority young people have experienced work-related racism. 

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

“The traditional stereotype of youthful swagger and optimism seems to have been replaced by worry and anxiety. Perhaps this is not surprising given that young people are facing serious financial troubles and uncertainty about their future.

“Low pay, insecure work and housing pressures are leaving young people struggling to make ends meet, which is having a terrible impact on their mental health. We are used to each generation having more opportunities than the last, but there is a feeling now that things are going backwards. These are very worrying times for young people – especially young women, who are hardest hit.” 

The survey shows that low pay and insecure work are on the rise, leaving young people in a precarious position: 

  • one in six young people (17 per cent) have been paid less than the legal minimum wage;
    • a third of young people (30 per cent) have been offered a zero hours contract;
    • more than half (53 per cent) are worried about how much their job pays;
    • one in ten (11 per cent) skip meals in order to make their cash last to the end of the month;
    • nearly half (45 per cent) are living with their parents;
    • a quarter (25 per cent) are in constant debt and just 39 per cent of young people think they will be debt-free by the time they are forty – they think it is just as likely that scientists will have found life on other planets (37 per cent);
    • almost four in ten feel worn-down (44 per cent of young women and 34 per cent of young men, totalling 39 per cent); and
    • less than a quarter feel confident (17 per cent of young women and 28 per cent of young men). 

In response to the findings, Dr Easton called for the Government to take action: 

“The Government must commit to improving young people’s prospects – or even more will be left behind and the economy will suffer. 

“Young people tell us they want to work and earn money. Much more needs to be done to improve their prospects and give them hope for the future. This means giving them the right skills and support to find jobs, ensuring decent and flexible jobs are available and changing the law to ensure under-25s are entitled to the same National Living Wage as everyone else. This would benefit businesses and the economy too. 

“Unless concerted action is taken across government to listen to and transform opportunities for young people, we risk losing a generation to low pay, debt, low self-confidence, worry and ill-health.” 

Young Women’s Trust supports and campaigns for women aged 16 to 30 on low or no pay. 

ENDS 

Notes to editor: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The report, ‘Worrying Times’, based on the survey findings, is available at: https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/what_we_do/publications
  4. The survey shows that young people feel their lives are going backwards and reveals serious mental health concerns, as a result of Brexit, financial troubles and worries for the future:
  • an estimated five million young people are struggling to make ends meet;
  • 32 per cent of young people feel more anxious than this time last year (34 per cent of young women and 29 per cent of young men);
  • 42 per cent put their anxiety down to Brexit, 41 per cent down to worries about being able to afford to buy a home and 37 per cent down to their current financial situation; just 14 per cent cite social media as a cause;
  • 47 per cent feel worried for the future (52 per cent young women and 42 per cent of young men);
  • 25 per cent of young people say their mental health has got worse over the past 12 months (28 per cent of young women and 21 per cent of young men);
  • 45 per cent of young women are concerned about their mental health, compared to 36 per cent of young men;
  • 23 per cent said their financial situation had got worse since last year (25 per cent of young women and 21 per cent of young men);
  • 25 per cent said their level of debt had got worse since last year;
  • 28 per cent said opportunities for young people had got worse in the past year (24 of young women and 32 per cent of young men);
  • 40 per cent of young people expect to have a less comfortable life than their parents (42 per cent of young women and 38 per cent of young men); and
  • 59 per cent said their confidence in politicians had got worse in the past year (61 per cent of young women and 58 per cent of young men).
  1. Young women in particular are facing money pressures and workplace discrimination:
  • 41 per cent said it was a real struggle to make their cash last to the end of the month, compared to 28 per cent of young men;
  • 48 per cent of young women – nearly half – said it would be a big financial problem if they had to replace a large item such as a fridge or a washing machine this year, compared to 39 per cent of young men;
  • 30 per cent – or nearly a third – report gender discrimination when working or looking for work, compared to 13 per cent of young men; and
  • 41 per cent of black and ethnic minority young people have experienced racism when working or looking for work, compared to 4 per cent of white people.
  1. For more information, regional breakdowns or to speak to a case study, please contact Bex Bailey on bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org or 07963018281.

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