25% of vulnerable young people can't pay their bills


A quarter of vulnerable young people do not have enough money to pay for essential items and some cannot afford to eat, research has shown.

As a result of the shocking findings, charity Action for Children is calling for much more to be done to teach young people how to be financially capable.

One survey respondent told the charity: "I have four kids, wages are low, benefits take ages to get sorted, not enough money to live on." Another wrote: "I still don't have enough money to eat." A third said they were "constantly in debt".

Some 67% of the most vulnerable young people the charity spoke to did not have, or can't remember having, financial education at school.

A further 59% would not go to a bank for information, as they find them intimidating and, sometimes, quite unhelpful. And 87% wouldn't seek help from the Jobcentre.

This is despite 74% of young people wanting to know how to budget and 51% wanting to know how to manage their bills.

Fill the gaps

Action for Children is calling for the government-backed Money Advice Service to fill some of the gaps in the provision of financial education as well as the financial community and the government to do far more to help.

The government, for example, could consider making financial skills and advice "integral to employment and training programmes and support", it said.

The charity added that many of the young people it spoke to talked of the importance of being able to trust organisations that may be able to help them.

"Winning their trust involves simplifying language, being welcoming and flexible, offering products that include an educational element (e.g. helping young people to manage their money by alerting them early to potential problems), helping them to save, and helping them to budget. These are the things that vulnerable young people say would make a difference," the charity said in its Getting a Fair Deal report.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service, added: "This research demonstrates just how important it is to encourage young people to engage with the information and advice available to help them make the most out of their money."

She added: "We are working closely with the finance sector to coordinate a financial capability strategy for the UK and a large part of this involves looking at how to bolster young people's financial skills, knowledge, attitudes, and motivations."

Personal finance Teacher of the Year

At Moneywise, we believe it's never too soon for young people to learn about their finances and that by mastering the basics early on in life, they will grow up to be the most financially savvy generation yet.

That's why this year we launched a national competition to find the best comprehensive school personal finance teacher – someone who is passionate about this important topic and 100% committed to making sure their pupils master their finances.

Having demonstrated a steely commitment to educating young people about the importance of making responsible financial decisions from an early age, Tracey Hill from William Howard School in Brampton, Cumbria, has won a £5,000 cash prize for her school. She will put the money to good use in supporting her teaching of this most important subject.

You can catch Tracey talking about her teaching and her prize on BBC 1's Right On The Money on Wednesday 15 July from 9.15am.