Poverty among young people in the UK
Commissioned by: StreetGames
This report, written by the New Policy Institute on behalf of StreetGames, considers the level and trends in poverty among people aged 14 to 24 (referred to as “young people”). It uses official government statistics to show how poverty varies by a range of themes: demographics, living situation and work status. The report was initially published on StreetGames website in January 2015.
A household is in poverty if its income after tax and housing costs is less than 60% of the typical (median) household income. It therefore identifies poverty as those with an income considerably below what is typical in society. A single adult with a disposable income of less than £130 per week in 2012/13 would be in poverty.
Of the 9.0 million young people aged 14-24 living in the UK, approximately 2.7 million, or 30%, are living in poverty. This includes 1.9 million young people with an income considerably below the poverty threshold (below 50% of median income). A further 740,000 young people had incomes just above the poverty threshold (above the 60% of median income but below 70%).
13% of young people live in families that are unable to keep their accommodation warm enough. Among children aged 14 and over, 8% do not have local access to outdoor space in which to play and 9% lack leisure equipment because of cost.
At 30% the poverty rate among young people is higher than any other age group. A decade earlier the children aged under 14 were more likely to be in poverty than young people, but this is no longer true. The poverty rate among 20-24 year olds grew by 6 percentage points in the last decade, more than any other age group.
Poverty among young people is highest in London at 38%, but the proportion of young adults in London claiming an out-of-work benefit is lower than much of the North or England. Estimates of poverty at the local area suggest that it is highest in the Welsh Valleys, cities across England and some coastal towns.
380,000 young people in poverty have a long standing illness or disability. Most young people in poverty are White-British (1.9 million), but the poverty rate for non-White British young people is almost double the rate for White British young people.
Of the 9.0 million people aged 14-24, 6.4 million live with their parents and 2.6 million do not. Just under half of all young people living with their parents (3.1 million) are classified as ‘dependent children’ (i.e. they were aged under 16, or aged 16-19, living with their parents and in full-time education).
Young people not living with their parents have a much higher poverty rate at 43% than those who do at 25%. But this gap is linked to tenure: young people not living with their parents are more likely to rent, and renters have a higher poverty rate.
Just under 1.1 million young people in poverty live in private rented accommodation, compared to 960,000 in social rented and 680,000 in owner-occupied. The poverty rate for young people in owner-occupied housing is at 15% compared to close to 50% for renters.
More than half of 19 to 24 year olds with children are in poverty. But this only amounts to 370,000 young people, compared to 2.3 million in poverty without children. Young people with children are rarely teenagers and are much more likely to be in their mid-20s.
Some 3.1 million young people in poverty are classified as dependent children’ (they are under 16, or up to 19, living with their parents and in full-time education). They are more likely to be in poverty if none of their parents are in work but over two thirds of those in poverty have a working parent. Of the 5.9 million young people in poverty that are classified as ‘working age adults’ (aged 19 and over, or 16 and not in full-time education): 540,000 are in working, 420,000 are unemployed, 380,000 are inactive and 440,000 are students.
There are more 19 and 20 year olds in poverty than young people of other ages. If full-time students who do not live with their parents were excluded this peak would disappear. But even excluding students the poverty rate for people in their early 20s is still 5 percentage points higher than for those in their late 20s.
Poverty among young people is higher than any other age group, a decade earlier this was not the case. Whilst the poverty rate for children under 14 and for pensioners fell, the poverty rate for young people increased. Part of the reason that poverty among young people is higher is that they are more likely to live in private rented accommodation and spend a greater share of their income on housing costs.
But the age group 14 to 24 is diverse. The vast majority of 14 year olds live with their parents and are in full-time education, whilst the opposite is true for 24 year olds, in fact many of them will be parents themselves. The poverty rate for young people is high across the age group but their circumstances will be very different and efforts to tackle poverty need to reflect this.
This report was initially published on StreetGames' website on 23 January 2015.