THE increasing impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the financial wellbeing of young people has been highlighted this week as joint research by The Co-operative Bank and Centrepoint showed the scale of job and financial insecurity amongst those aged 16-24. This research expands on recent data that showed young people were the most likely to have lost their job during the pandemic period.
Young people facing an increased risk of homelessness
The new research shows that a quarter (26%) of those aged 16-24 (1.8 million people) were concerned that if they lost their income, they could be made homeless, whilst a third (33%) of young people think they could be without a safe place to live if they did not receive additional support. With figures from Centrepoint showing that more than three-quarters of council respondents (78%) across England had seen an increase in homelessness in their area since the start of the pandemic, the new research indicates that this figure may rise as the impact of COVID-19 increases levels of financial insecurity among young people.
Few young people feel their income is secure
Only a quarter (24%) of young workers feel their job is safe, with a similar proportion having already seen a cut in hours (16%) or pay (11%). Three in ten young people said they expect to see a drop in income due to the pandemic. Worryingly, about a third (32%) of respondents said they would only be able to meet their financial responsibilities for just one month or less before having to rely on support services. Overall, two thirds (67%) of young people would eventually need to rely on support services to meet their financial obligations if they lost their main source of income.
As well as young people who felt their own jobs were in jeopardy, the research also found significant levels of income uncertainty among the support network that young people rely on for support. More than one in five (22%) are reliant on others with an insecure job, such as their parents (17%) or partner (5%). Overall, around a third (30%) of young people feel their current living situation is insecure.
End of furlough scheme could heighten pressures
A quarter (25%) of 16 to 24-year olds in work have been furloughed as a result of COVID-19. However, fewer than two in five (38%) on furlough think their job will be eligible for the new Job Support Scheme once it is rolled out with almost a third (29%) believing it will not to be eligible and 34% unsure.
Seyi Obakin, Chief Executive, Centrepoint, commented:
“While the uncertainty and disruption of the past six months have impacted everyone in some way, this research clearly indicates the severe effect it has had on young people. As we move into the winter months, and as the Government furlough scheme winds down, the risk of a dramatic increase in youth homelessness is very real, exacerbated by the existing financial and employment insecurity of young people.
“For the last 15 years, we’ve asked our supporters to Sleep Out to help us end youth homelessness. As our Sleep Out events aren’t possible this year due to the Coronavirus guidelines, on 8th October, we’re challenging people to STAY:UP all night to help us to raise awareness of homelessness affecting young people.”