© Young Women's Trust and 4 in 10.

On the Edge: Life for young women on low incomes in London

October 2020

Young women in London are facing an unemployment crisis. Before the coronavirus pandemic, young people in London were more likely to be in insecure, low-paid and low-skilled work than any previous generation of young people⁶. During the pandemic, young people and women have faced the highest job losses⁷. Since June, London has seen a higher increase in job losses and a slower increase in job vacancies than the rest of the UK⁸.

If you are young, a woman, and you live in London, you face a triple threat of unemployment challenges. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the systemic fragility of the employment status of young women, particularly those living on low incomes in the capital.

Here, we set out:

• The pre-existing financial pressures on young women in London

• The disproportionate effect of coronavirus, the economic crisis and the end of the furlough scheme on their employment prospects

• The barriers young women face to learning the new skills they need to gain employment

• The frustrations young women feel for a job centre service that doesn’t work for them

• How childcare availability and cost prevents young mums from accessing sustainable work

• Opportunities to improve employment support services and equality within workplaces.

Before the pandemic, young women aged 18-30 in London were more likely than their male peers to skip meals to make their cash last until the end of the month (12% compared to 8%), to be in debt all of the time (19% compared to 16%), and to be worried for the future (56% compared to 42%)⁹. Following the pandemic, 32% of young women in England and Wales were struggling to afford basics like food¹⁰.


Since the start of the pandemic, young people aged 16 - 24 have suffered the biggest drop in employment of all age groups¹¹. In May 2020 Young Women’s Trust reported that more than 78 per cent of those who had lost their jobs since the crisis began were women, and two thirds were aged between 18 and 34¹².

London is experiencing a slower economic recovery than the rest of the UK. Job vacancies are down by nearly a half in London (49%) compared to average reductions of a third nationally (34%)¹³.


⁶ 4in10 and Partnership for Young London, 2018

⁷ The Times, May 2020

⁸ Peabody Trust, 2020

⁹ Young Women’s Trust, June-July 2019

¹⁰ Young Women’s Trust, May 2020

¹¹ ONS, Sept 2020

¹² The Times, May 2020

¹³ Peabody Trust, 2020

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