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Young People and Their Cost of Living in the UK

Author: Sakshi Patil

Date: 6th June 2024


New UK youth research has recently shown and highlighted the significant concerns from 16-25-year-olds and their parents about the cost-of-living crisis affecting young people’s mental health, employment prospects, and even their ability to access regular meals. There has also been an increase in cases of young people living with their parents.


Through the census it is revealed that 620,000 more young adults are now living with their parents than a decade ago – and most of those doing so are young men. This is mainly due to the rapidly rising rents and the cost-of-living crisis means that on a typical London street, you will find at least one adult child in one in four families, the Office for National Statistics has revealed.


Katharine Hill, UK director of the charity Care for the Family. “Once socially taboo, adult children choosing to continue to live at home is now seen as an economic necessity. There are pros and cons on both sides – lack of privacy and personal space on the one hand, a decision that makes financial sense with the opportunity to build supportive relationships on the other. 


For both parents and children, it requires clear boundaries and agreed expectations to work well.” Highlighting there is a shift of culture in the U.K. It seems like the new norm is living with your parents. 


However different parts of England have been affected differently. For instance, the more north-eastern parts of England, being the area to be the most affordable to buy a house, has seen the proportion of adults living with their parents falling in the decade to 2021. 


On the other hand, the capital's high house prices mean the average age of an adult child living with a parent is now 25, compared with a year younger for the rest of England and Wales. In the London Borough of Haringey, where average house prices nearly doubled over the decade to reach £591,000, the average age increased from 24 to 26. 


Conversely, in Selby, Yorkshire, and the Humber, where house prices rose by only 40% during the same period, the average age remained steady at 23, the same as in 2011.


How the current government has influenced this? 


The current UK government has led to rising living costs in recent years through many policy initiatives, including mismanaging the economy. One of these was handling the Brexit transition – which increased import costs through new tariffs and trade restrictions. 


These costs have been passed on to consumers, resulting in higher prices of essential goods such as food and clothing. There has also been an increase in supply chain disruptions due to Brexit, which has increased the cost of goods and decreased their availability.


Another central area has been the government’s dealing with fiscal policy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


While emergency measures such as furlough schemes, business loans, and universal credit were widely welcomed at the time, the subsequent withdrawal of these measures, and recently imposed austerity, has added to the financial pressures that households are facing. 


Spikes in energy costs, a reduction in social welfare, and the closure of public services have left many in financial distress. (This impact is especially prevalent among low-income individuals who earn the least.) Lowering the degree of Universal Credit and also failing to address housing affordability has served to augment financial pressures.


Furthermore, their energy policies have resulted in an upward spiral of utility costs, another significant component of the cost of living. A failure to invest in renewable energy infrastructure and the price volatility of fossil fuel markets have helped to drive energy price increases. 

The failure of regulatory regimes and the collapse of several energy providers that have brought the market to the brink of collapse have also increased costs for consumers. Today, households struggle to pay for essentials such as heating and electricity, in many cases for the first time.

PM debate 2024


Recently, the PM Debate 2024 took place on Tuesday 4th July, where it was an opportunity for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, leader of the Conservatives, and Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, to discuss key issues that concern voters and outline how their respective parties would address these issues if they were to win the election.


During the 2024 Electoral Debate, both Sir Kier Starmer and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were asked the question about the prevalent cost of living issue. Both candidates responded with quite interesting answers. 


Rishi Sunak responded with assurance that his plan is working and in fact that the economy is growing. Perhaps assuring the woman who asked the questions and the viewers at home, that this issue will be slowly resolved. 


Sir Kier Starmer retaliates this claim that the prime minister cannot comprehend the problems that households are facing. Both sides, however, did not address the issue directly and did not tell us about they would do to resolve the issue. 


Hence,  it is unclear how this issue for the future for young adults will continue to impact them negatively, even under a new government. 

Edited By: Ayantika Ghosh


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