Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021

Young people most affected by cost of living crisis, study finds

Young people are still the most financially vulnerable age group in Britain despite often doing the right thing when it comes to their money, according to a new report.

People aged 18 to 30 are more likely to be savers than any other age group yet are still the most affected by the cost of living crisis, the research from the cross-party think tank Demos found.

“Despite the criticism that young people often face, regularly accused of spending too much money on coffees and avocados and not being financially prudent, our new research shows just how much young people are trying to look after their finances and save for the future – more so than any other age group,” said Ben Glover, lead author of the ‘Bouncing Back’ report.

“But amid a cost of living crisis they still face the greatest uphill battle, with the highest spending on essentials, a lack of support and a system that doesn’t work for them.

“It’s time for the government, policymakers and financial institutions to urgently work together to help boost young people’s financial wellbeing and prospects after the pandemic.”

The report found that almost three-quarters of young people (72%) see the sense in saving for the future, but nearly half (47%) of those questioned had “low financial resilience”, meaning they have too much debt or little capacity to pay bills in the event of a financial shock.

At Northampton market I met 32-year-old Dainis Vanko, who recently launched a picture framing business in the town and is watching the pennies as he prepares for what he hopes will be a busy run-up to Christmas.

“I’m keeping an eye on everything really, especially the cost of energy,” he said.

“I like to enjoy life and spend when I have anything spare, but energy bills are going up and that means there’s less cash for going out or to spend on your lifestyle.

“It is worrying, especially if the winter is a harsh one this year. I’ve put everything into my business.”

The report also found that young people spend more than twice as much, on average, as older people (51+) on essentials like rent or mortgage and bills, equating to nearly £1,300 more per month.

“It’s sobering to see the stark reality of just how many of our young people are struggling simply to pay their bills on time and to build the financial safety net that we all need in a crisis,” said Mike Regnier, chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, which sponsored the research.

“The research really demonstrates the challenges that the increased cost of living is posing for 18 to 30-year-olds.

“Even before the pandemic many young adults were facing a difficult financial situation and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy has only exacerbated this.

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“This is an issue that requires attention as a matter of urgency to ensure the serious challenges young people are experiencing around the cost of living crisis, being over-indebted, amassing sufficient savings and receiving a comprehensive financial education are addressed in a meaningful, timely manner.”

One of the report’s recommendations is that financial education is made mandatory in primary schools before the end of this parliament.

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