More than a quarter of young adults in the East now reliant on loans

Business / Wed 5th Jan 2022 at 08:34am

MORE than one in four (28%) adults under 30 in the East of England have had to borrow money since the pandemic began according to a new survey* by The Salvation Army.

In spite of more than half (52 per cent) being in full-time jobs, many live hand to mouth with those in work just as likely as the unemployed to say they need charity support.

Nearly one in five (18%) have delayed paying other bills since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the church and charity is warning that with the rise in the cost of living, many young people are on the cliff edge of homelessness. 13 per cent of the age group say they will have to rely on charity support this Christmas.

Catherine, 24, is a mum of two in Harwich. Her partner has been out of work for four months and the family’s main source of income is currently Universal Credit.

Catherine explained: “Universal Credit doesn’t cover the cost of living. We have to pay our rent and bills first and don’t have the money to buy other essentials like nappies, baby milk, washing powder and groceries so we rely on support from charities like The Salvation Army.

“We also owe money to family members who have helped us in the past. It’s better because there are no interest rates, but we never have enough to pay them back.”

The research also shows that since the start of the pandemic:

•         15 per cent of adults are currently behind with their rent or mortgage which puts them at greater risk of homelessness

•         and 9 per cent have visited a food bank.

Office for National Statistics figures** plus research from Think Tank, Demos***, show that this age group is more likely to be in low-paid, low-security jobs with more of their income going on housing. They are also more likely to have suffered financially due to the pandemic as a higher proportion worked in industries that shut down or put furloughed staff on reduced wages. 

Lieutenant Shawn Moye is Salvation Army leader in Harwich and said he is worried there will be no Christmas cheer for Catherine and her young family, along with others like them across the region, who are struggling to make ends meet.

He said: “For many people, money doesn’t stretch to cover the basics. Young adults have it drummed into them that they need to pay rent and bills so if they don’t have enough food, then that’s what they miss out on. They are not living well and many become ill. Some are not even putting the heating on.”

The Salvation Army’s Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant said the church and charity are preparing for one of its busiest Christmases ever.

He added: “There are real people clearly in desperate need behind these statistics. Our doors will be open every day over the festive period to support the thousands in crisis with food, warm clothes, emergency shelter and Christmas presents for their children.

“We are seeing young people who have jobs but still struggle to make ends meet and have to rely on our foodbanks and other support we give to vulnerable families. Now the rise in the cost of living will eat up even more of their income, and they could fall deeper into debt and poverty and start the new year facing homelessness.”

The Salvation Army is calling for:

•         people with debt problems to be given sixty days ‘breathing space’ to pay back the Government for the loan they receive while waiting for their first Universal Credit payment;

•         more debt support for those at risk of falling into arrears with their mortgage or rent;

•         protection from food poverty during the school holidays for families with children;

•         and an expansion of free childcare provision so parents can afford to work.

The Salvation Army runs food banks across the UK and offers free debt and employment advice.  Last Christmas, the church and charity distributed gifts to nearly 300 children from vulnerable families in Harwich.

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