Living in England is unaffordable for young people on minimum wage

Research by End Youth Homelessness and Yorkshire Building Society finds that all areas in England are unaffordable for young people working full-time on minimum wage

Read more

End Youth Homelessness recently published its Affordability Index research, which reveals that young people (under 25) in full-time work across England are unable to afford privately rented accommodation anywhere in the country.

The research conducted by Yorkshire Building Society for EYH, considers a number of contributing factors including minimum wage, Universal Credit, and average rental costs.

According to The Resolution Foundation for a rental cost to be considered affordable, it should be no more than 35% of a person’s wage.*  

The Affordability Index however shows that for young people aged 21-24 in England, working full-time and earning the minimum wage of £8.20 per hour, the average rental cost across the country is 71% of their wage.


The most affordable places in England are Liverpool and Hull where the average private rental will cost 38% of the salary of a 21-24 year-old earning minimum wage.

The least affordable areas in England are unsurprisingly concentrated in London with Central London rents the equivalent of 251% of the salary of a 21-24 year-old earning minimum wage.

The index looks at all minimum wage levels by different age groups and also highlights that affordability becomes progressively worse for younger people on lower levels.

For example young people aged 18-20 that receive a minimum wage of £6.45 per hour would on average across England need to use 91% of their wages on rent costs. For those under 18 earning £4.55 per hour it jumps to 129% of their wage.

The data also reveals that young people are potentially being discouraged from working and living independently, since a full-time minimum wage job does not improve their financial circumstances in a more meaningful way than Universal Credit. Factoring in the extra associated costs, full-time work would in some cases result in young people being worse-off than counterparts who receive Universal Credit. The result is that in some cases, the Private Rented Sector is even less affordable for young people in full-time work.

Nick Connolly, Managing Director of End Youth Homelessness said: 

“This new data lays bare the urgency of the housing dilemma faced by many young people across the country. The prohibitive costs associated with private renting are forcing the most vulnerable young people into desperate situations and COVID-19 has pushed even more young people closer to homelessness. We are proud of our award winning partnership with Yorkshire Building Society, which helps young people overcome the financial barriers holding them back from a safe place to call home.”

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at EYH member charity Centrepoint said:

'When young people have managed to overcome huge challenges and take their first steps into employment, they must not be confronted with impossible housing situations wherever they turn,' 

'We want to see genuinely affordable and sustainable housing options available for young people, including more social housing and additional help to make private renting sustainable.'

Young people worried about their housing situation or becoming homeless could call the Centrepoint helpline on 0808 800 0661.


Full data set can be downloaded here


*Rental affordability taken from The Resolution Foundation report


End Youth Homelessness is calling for donations to support the Housing Fund here.