Young people are 'bearing the brunt' of the UK's debt

The Momentum UK Team 10 February 2014

Over three times as many young people as pensioners are struggling with increasing debt, according to new research from think tank Demos.

According to the research, released today, 55% of 18-24 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds say that their debt has increased over the past 5 years, compared to just 13% of those aged over 65. When people were asked about money worries, the most common were “unexpected expenses” and “affording the basics”.

The majority of young people said that they currently had more than £2,000 of debt, with a fifth (19%) of 18-24 year olds and almost a quarter (22%) of 25-34 year olds revealing that their debts are in excess of £10,000.

Although some reasons for getting into debt can be positive, such as funding your education, the research found that young people’s reasons were more likely to be negative. Out of 25-34 year olds, 35% got into debt due to “unexpected expenses”, 28% "couldn't afford the basics” and 27% cited a £one off purchase”. Despite 18-24 year olds being the most likely group to have taken out a student loan, less than a third (30%) said that their debt came from “investing in their future”, with 18% getting into debt to cover their rent.

According to Demos, these figures present a bleak picture for young people, who the think tank says are already under pressure due to increased living costs and welfare reforms. Jo Salter, a researcher at Demos, commented on the findings:

“When we talk about rising debt levels, it is young people in their 20s and 30s who are bearing the brunt. This is a time in their lives when previous generations would be thinking about starting a family or trying to get on the property ladder. Instead of saving for the future, they are being dragged into debt just to meet the costs of living.”