New data released by Young Women’s Trust shows the stark reality of the cost of living crisis, as the charity warn that young women in the South West are struggling more than ever.

In the latest Costing our Futures report 61 per cent of local young women said that they struggle to make their cash last to the end of the month, which increased from 52 per cent in the previous year. As a result of they are also being forced into more debt (33 per cent).

Furthermore, half of young women in the South West said that their finances had got worse over the last 12 months, up from 40 per cent in 2022.

At a time in life when young women should be thriving, the survey found that they are struggling and are filled with dread when they think about their finances (63 per cent). In summary:

  • 62 per cent of young women described their current financial situation as uncomfortable. This has increased from 48 per cent in 2022.
  • A third (33 per cent) of young women have been unable to afford food or essential supplies, up from 24 per cent last year. 
  • Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of young women have fallen behind on rent or bills in the last 12 months.

The financial struggle is also meaning career aspirations are being put on the back burner with over a quarter (28 per cent) of young women saying that they are stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy. Some also said that they had no choice but to take a job that they didn’t want in the first place (20 per cent).

The national picture also shows how the gulf between the financial stability of young women and young men is widening. Whilst the statistics are getting significantly worse for young women, they appear to be stabilising for young men.

Young women are so exposed to the cost of living crisis because they earn £5000 less than young men right from the start of working life[i]. This would cover the average household’s food and energy bills for the entire year and by the age of 25, would add up to the average house deposit for a first-time buyer.

Izy lives in Cornwall but has had to move 12 times in the last year because of the cost of living crisis. She says: “My partner lives in London and I’m over 300 miles away in Cornwall because when you’re self-employed you’re dismissed by letting agencies in the city. After being offered a new job opportunity in London my partner was able to find a place to live but I wasn’t as lucky and had to make the difficult decision to leave and move back home.  Life is like crazy paving - it’s a constant winding road to survive and I can’t put roots down anywhere. I manage to get by but it's very hard to save. I’m thankful that I can eat but I don’t get to visit friends out of Cornwall that often because of the expense of travel and sadly, the more you say no, the more people stop asking. I’m in a real catch 22 as there could be work for me in London and I could be with my partner - I have actually turned down roles in the past - but the rental requirements don’t position me as a good candidate and I wouldn’t be accepted.”

Young Women’s Trust is calling for measures to address the underlying inequality that young women face in the world of work, through more robust pay gap reporting and action to tackle it, more support for young women to progress at work, and stronger measures to tackle discrimination. To help all young women who are struggling right now, Young Women’s Trust are calling for the Government to act by:

  • Going further in the forthcoming extension of the National Living Wage to younger age groups, so that 18 to 20 year olds receive it too.
  • Increasing the amount of support through the benefits system, through an Essentials Guarantee which makes sure the basic rate of Universal Credit is always enough to cover the costs of essentials.
  • Listening to the voices of young women as they create policies to respond to the cost of living crisis.

Claire Reindorp, Chief Executive at Young Women’s Trust said: “The cost of living crisis continues to affect us all, but young women are more likely than young men to be facing it without any sort of safety net, and their financial situation is going from bad to worse.

“If their average annual incomes were the same as young men, young women would be £5,000 better off. They could be paying their bills for the entire year and doing so much more with their lives. The income gap is caused by multiple factors including young women being in lower paid jobs, outright discrimination and a lack of access to the affordable childcare or flexible working they need. Young women are not getting equal chances to make a decent living for themselves and have fewer routes out of financial hardship. It’s vital that our politicians listen to young women and create tailored support to address this inequality – young women’s futures are at stake.”

The full report is available at