Every young person should have the financial support to allow them to meet their essential needs.

As the cost of living crisis continues, too many young people are at risk of accepting it as normal.

But it isn’t normal to skip meals. It isn’t normal to not meet up with friends. And it isn’t normal to put your hopes and dreams on hold because you’re struggling to afford the basics.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Increased wages and fairer benefits would help more young people meet their basic needs and return to some form of normality.

Sam’s journey gives you an insight into the choices some young people have to make everyday because of the cost of living crisis.

If you were living in survival mode, what course of action would you take?

Jack, Grimsby

“The rising cost of living has impacted me a lot; everything is too expensive. I am not able to save, and I sometimes need to use foodbanks before I get my next benefits or wages. My mental health has been up and down throughout this time and I worry about paying bills and getting into debt.”

Carys, Bridgwater

“The cost of living crisis has hit me hard. It’s harder to manage money and be able to buy food as it is so expensive. Budgeting seems to be difficult, if I’m lucky, I could probably save about £30 per month. It has been really tricky; I have had some really low days where I struggle to get out of bed.”

The Report

Read our NEW report Trapped in the Cost of living crisis


See life through Sam’s eyes


Learn more about YMCA General Election Manifesto 2024


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What can be done?

Every young person should have the financial support to allow them to meet their essential needs. To help ensure that this is the case, YMCA England & Wales believe that change can make a difference. Here are our recommendations:


The Government should introduce an Essentials Guarantee for benefits, an independently-calculated figure which would determine the minimum level of benefits to meet people’s essential needs.


Young people under 25 who are living independently should receive an additional Universal Credit payment, to bring their standard allowance up to match the over 25s rate.


Residents of supported accommodation should receive a Universal Credit work allowance to allow them to earn more before their income from benefits is tapered.