Young people in Scotland are suffering the impact of the recession more than most, and feel no-one is listening to the anger and despair they feel. These are the findings of a major new report presented today by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
The report is based on evidence from Scottish CAB clients, and on a survey of 16-25 year olds carried out by CAS last year. The survey allowed young Scots to talk about their economic situation in their own words, which many of them felt they had never been able to do before.
Key findings of the report include:
- The unemployment rate for young Scots is 20% - more than three times the rate among older workers. The number of 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance increased by 79% in the three years after August 2007.
- Between 2007 and 2010, the number of young Scots claiming benefits increased by 25%. Around 13% of young people in Scotland claim some sort of benefit. And yet the benefit paid to someone under 25 is often significantly less than that paid to an older person in the same situation.
- Almost a third of homeless applications made in Scotland are made by a single person under 25. The number of single young people assessed as priority homeless increased by 20% between 2007 and 2009.
- Debt is one of the most common problems brought to Scottish CAB advisers by young people. In 2009, the average level of debt brought to the CAB by a young person was around £10,000 – this had doubled in the previous 5 years.
The report also includes local breakdowns of the impact of youth unemployment in each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities (see Notes).
Publishing the evidence today, CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“CAB advisers have been reporting for some time that young people were experiencing real problems, so when we began this survey we expected the results to show quite a lot of suffering. But frankly we’ve been taken aback by just how bleak the picture is. There is real anger and despair out there. Young people feel they are suffering the after-shock of a recession that they did nothing to create, and to make matters worse they feel that no-one listens to them or takes them seriously.
“To be young in Scotland today is to worry about whether you will be able to get a job or a home. If you are able to get into higher education, that means you will almost certainly be taking on huge debts. The benefits system meanwhile frankly discriminates against the young. And with the ever-rising price of property and the chronic shortage of affordable homes for rent, young people are becoming trapped in the private rented sector, which reduces their ability to save and invest.
“While these problems can affect all people in society, it is clear from our report that they are hitting young people harder than most. And these problems could dictate the future of this generation and the country they live in. Once a young person has been out of work for a long period, they become less likely to get a job, and they will earn less in any job they do manage to get. And that has a real impact - not just on them and their family, but also on the amount of money they will pay in tax.
“Our message to young Scots is that the CAB movement is listening to them and wants to help them. Every local CAB is equipped to give free, confidential and impartial advice on all of these problems. And our message to government ministers is that they too need to start listening to this generation, and understand that while young people may be the future, their problems are very much the present.”
The ‘Being Young Being Heard’ report is available to dowload in full at the end of this page. The full report is 128 pages long, but a 2-page briefing sheet is also available.
Motions have been lodged this week in support of these propsals, in Holyrood (by Green MSP for Lothian region, Robin Harper) and in the House of Commons (by Scottish Labour MP for Airdrie & Shotts, Pamela Nash – who is one of the youngest MPs in Scotland). The text of both motions is given below.
For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
Case Studies and Quotes by Young People
A number of case studies are available for interview (first come first served!!)
In addition, these quotes are all taken from the survey we did. Further quotes are available in the survey report. Over 220 people responded to the survey, which was carried out in the summer and autumn of 2010.
- "There are no jobs around, and many of my friends feel worthless. Not all the young people are neds who want to live off the social, but there is not a lot else to do at the moment. This is an extremely hard time to be young."
- "I had been looking for work since I left school when I was 16… I was sitting in my house getting depressed over why I wasn’t good enough for anyone to employ."
- "There is so much talk of a lost generation right now. I feel like I have wasted years at university for a worthless piece of paper."
- "Being unemployed for this amount of time has changed many things about myself. When employers see I have been unemployed for this long, they won’t even look at me."
- "I want to work, yet it’s like nobody will give me a chance. It’s making me depressed and has knocked my confidence big time."
- "I have been unemployed for 2 years and can’t see myself ever finding employment."
- "I hate being on benefits. I feel like I have no pride in myself any more."
- "Jobseekers Allowance has saved me from destitution but it has not given me a leg up and I feel trapped and unable to contribute to society as I know I am able."
- "I informed my jobcentre I was homeless and they said I was entitled to nothing because of my age (18)."
- "Being a homeowner is now a privilege of the wealthy and those who bought houses before the house prices sky rocketed."
- "The price of private letting is extortionate! More than half my monthly wages would go automatically on rent."
- "Before the recession hit I was continually offered loans and credit cards which, being young and stupid, I agreed to."
- "…it’s getting too much and I can’t afford to pay it but the debt isn’t going to go away and I am worrying myself sick. I have bad depression with all this."
Breakdown of statistics by local authority area
From page 110 of the report, we have provided a breakdown of the impact of youth unemployment by local authority area across Scotland. This shows that Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire have the highest numbers of young unemployed people. However, if we look at youth unemployment as a proportion of the overall unemployment figures, the worst areas are North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and Inverclyde. And if we look at the areas where youth unemployment has grown the fastest, the worst areas are East Lothian, Midlothian and East Renfrewshire.
Both of these motions have been submitted this week, and are receiving support from MPs and MSPs across party lines. The Holyrood motion is quoted here as submitted. The Westminster motion is a final draft and may be subject to minor changes as it is lodged.
Scottish Parliament motion by Robin Harper MSP: That the Parliament welcomes Citizens Advice Scotland’s (CAS) most recent research report, Being Young Being Heard, outlining the impact of the recession on young people living in Scotland; commends CAS for undertaking what it considers to be this important piece of research on the problems faced by young people; notes that young people in Scotland are having to cope with serious issues such as debt and unemployment; is concerned that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed compared with the rest of the working-age population; is particularly concerned that during the recession East Lothian saw an increase of 172% in young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance, the largest increase in Scotland; is further concerned that the average debt held by young Citizens Advice Bureaux clients in Scotland is £10,000 and that these debt problems are often instigated by unemployment! and in-work problems faced by young people; considers there to be an urgent need for programmes that assist young people with their problems, and would welcome new and improved policies and practices that benefit young people across Scotland.
House of Commons motion by Pamela Nash MP: That this House welcomes Citizens Advice Scotland’s (CAS) latest research report, Being Young Being Heard, which outlines the impact of the recession on young people living in Scotland; commends CAS for undertaking this important piece of research on the problems faced by young people; notes that young people in Scotland are having to cope with serious issues such as homelessness, debt and unemployment; is concerned that young people are three times more likely to be unemployed compared to the working age population; notes that young people under the age of 25 are unable to claim working tax credit and receive 20% less in jobseekers allowance per week compared to those who are over 25; is further concerned that the current welfare system provides inadequate financial and employment assistance to this group; recognises the urgent need for programmes that assist young people with their problems and calls on the Government to establish and support policies and practices that benefit young people across Scotland.