Financial capability and learning

Half of 16 – 25 year olds in the UK say the cost of living crisis has had a worse impact on their life than the pandemic

The Prince's Trust NatWest youth index 2024 highlights the ‘Devastating consequences’ of the crisis on young peoples wellbeing and ambitions

The Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2024, released today, finds half (49 per cent) of 16–25-year-olds in the UK think the cost of living crisis has had a worse impact on their life than the pandemic.

It shows young people’s happiness and confidence with money has hit the lowest level on record since polling began in 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis and is the factor having the biggest negative impact on overall wellbeing. 

A third (34 per cent) of 16 -25-year-olds say the cost of living crisis has made their mental health much worse, while over two fifths (43 per cent) report they feel anxious on a daily basis about it. One in ten (10 per cent) report being bullied for not being able to afford everyday costs, rising to over one in five (23 per cent) of those from poorer backgrounds. Similar numbers (21 per cent) report skipping meals to save money in the past year, a rise of 7 per cent since last year.

The Youth Index is an annual research report based on a YouGov survey of 2,239 16- to 25-year-olds across the UK, gauging young people’s confidence and happiness across a range of areas, from their physical and mental health to money and working life. 

Over half (53 per cent) are worried the crisis means they will never be financially secure, despite two thirds (66 per cent) reporting this is their biggest goal in life, followed by having good mental health (42 per cent), having a family (36 per cent) and owning a home (35 per cent). Almost half (47 per cent) worry they will never earn enough to support a family, rising to 60 per cent who worry they will never be able to buy their own home. 


Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust said:

“This year’s Youth Index highlights the devastating consequences of what we have been hearing from the young people we support in our centers across the UK; that the cost of living is having a profoundly negative impact on their day to day lives, wellbeing and aspirations." 

“Showing that the impact of the rising cost of living is hitting those from poorer backgrounds the hardest, without action, they threaten to hold this generation – and broader society - back for decades to come.”


Almost a fifth (18 per cent) of young people plan to finish their education early so that they can start earning money. A quarter (24 per cent) state they can’t afford to get the qualification for what they want to do, rising to 34 per cent among those from poorer backgrounds and 32 per cent among unemployed young people. 

One in ten (10 per cent) young people from poorer backgrounds or who are unemployed have turned down a job because they can’t afford the costs to start – be it rent, transport or uniform. And 5 per cent of young people have missed school or work in the past 12 months because they couldn’t afford transport, rising to almost one in ten (9 per cent) of those from poorer backgrounds. Over two fifths (23 per cent) say worrying about money has made them unable to concentrate at school.

The report also reveals young people are increasingly turning to social media for advice on managing their finances, with the number of 16-25-year-olds utilising TikTok to secure this doubling since 2022.


Sandi Royden, Head of Youth and Families at NatWest said:

“These findings show that navigating the cost-of living crisis is not only impacting young people’s day to day lives, but it’s making them uncertain about their future financial security. "

“It is encouraging to see that in spite of this so many young people feel determined to achieve their goals and we have a part to play in supporting them. No young person should be faced with these challenges, and we want them to know there is support available."

“Through our partnership with the Prince’s Trust, we are able to better understand the needs of young people and take the right action through initiatives like NatWest Thrive, to help them to improve both their financial wellbeing and future confidence, to better equip them to achieve their goals.”


While over two thirds (69 per cent) of young people report having a job will help get them through the cost of living crisis, gives them stability in life (75 per cent) and makes them feel confident about their future (68 per cent), over a quarter (28 per cent) are worried about losing their job due to economic uncertainty.

Almost half (48 per cent) worry about not having the right skills and qualifications, or the right experience (57 per cent) to always get a job in the future.


Jonathan Townsend said:

“Despite the bleak findings, the research also presents a window of hope, if we act now, as the overwhelming majority of young people tell us they remain determined to achieve their goals. What they require is practical, pragmatic support to overcome the challenges they face."

“Only with the support of our partners, employers and government can we deliver this.”  


A third (32 per cent) report that help with securing work experience or training would help them achieve their career ambitions. This is followed by over a quarter who would like help to build confidence, CV and interview skills, building skills for work (all 28 per cent) and improve their qualifications (27 per cent). 

The Prince’s Trust helps tens of thousands of young people each year to build the confidence and skills they need to realise their potential. Three in four young people on Prince’s Trust programmes move into work, education or training.

The Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2024

Read full report here.

For more information on The Prince’s Trust please contact Niall Mann on niall.mann@princes-trust.org.uk  / press@princes-trust.org.uk or 07734 979877.

Notes to Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2239 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd November - 14th December 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK young people aged 16 to 25.

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