Young Women and the Cost of Living Crisis
Research shows rising finances are really impacting this group, but what support is available?
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Statistics show that young women are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.
Last year’s Young Women’s Trust annual survey report revealed that young women are more likely than young men to be struggling with rising costs.
In the survey, 54% of young women surveyed said that it was a real struggle to make their cash last until the end of the month, compared to 44% of young men – up from 31% in 2020.
I spoke to Lydia, a YWT representative, and Morgan, a YWT service user, to gain more insight into the challenges that young women are facing during the cost of living crisis.
Lydia, how has the cost of living crisis been playing out among young women who use Young Women’s Trust’s services?
In our 2022 annual survey, we spoke to over 4,000 young women and men, aged 18 to 30 years old, in England and Wales. We found that over 52% of the women interviewed said that they were ‘filled with dread’ when they think about their household finances, compared with 44% of young men.
When we did this research in 2020, it was 27% and 23% respectively, so compared to two years ago as you can see, the financial gender divide, as well as the dread and worry about managing their finances, is getting bigger.
What sort of support is the Trust offering to young women who are struggling financially?
Our coaching service, where young women can speak to a trained coach at any time of the day that suits them. They can have up to six sessions – it’s usually done over the telephone, but can also be done online. They can talk to the coach about whatever it is they are struggling with currently, be it work, finances or general wellbeing. There are lots of organisations that our coaches will signpost young women to if they are in need of specific acute support.
What more do you think the Government could do to help?
Some of the recommendations from our annual survey included a call for the Government to review and really consider the needs of young mothers. One is to make childcare more affordable, another is to make childcare more flexible.
We are also calling on targeted investment in flexible childcare so that young women can go out to work if they want or need to and also because childcare, in general, is expensive. We are also calling for flexible working to be made a legal right and not something that has to be earned or asked for.
Morgan, how has the cost of living crisis affected you?
I don’t tend to go out and socialise much due to a lack of money each month because it can be a challenge to have money left over to pay for travel fares once I’ve paid for my monthly expenses. This can be a real struggle for me, especially because I study and work remotely at present, which has made me become more isolated.
I used to do my food shop at Sainsbury’s, but now I find Sainsbury’s too pricey so I’ve had to change where I get my food from, so it’s affected me in that sense too.
Travel fares rising hasn’t given me much hope, and I do feel concerned about how I’ll cope moving forward if I don’t have a higher-paying job.
What more do you think could be done to help struggling young women like yourself?
It would be great if young women who are Universal Credit claimants could automatically receive a higher amount of cash each month. I am aware that this has already been done for some individuals (myself included), which is very much appreciated. But in my situation, it still hasn’t been enough to get me through.
I think there should also be more free financial workshops available. As well as financial coaches to help young women get back on track with their finances, for example, help coming up with a financial plan.
I feel that it would be good for libraries to do those workshops for free, along with one-to-one sessions with someone, like a financial advisor or financial coach, who could also signpost them to different organisations.
Do you think this type of support should be tailored to young women or be more general money management workshops?
I believe the support should be general money management workshops because we all need help at times.
There could also be separate women-focused workshops, as many women are financially vulnerable and need help.
What are your hopes and fears for the future?
My fear for the future is not being able to move out and live independently and comfortably, which is something I desire.
I am concerned about not being able to pass my driving test and being able to buy and maintain a car.
I am concerned about not being able to go out much with my friends and travel internationally, as I hope to one day.
My hope for the future is to be a business owner supporting young black women through motivational speaking and mentoring.