Holly Williams | Contributing | Friday, 17 July 2015

16-24 Year Olds Spending Over 80% Of Their Incomes On Rent

16-24 Year Olds Spending Over 80% Of Their Incomes On Rent

The Debrief: A new study shows young people are spending up to 88 per cent of their income on rent. Ouch.

Moaning that all your money goes on rent used to be a convenient excuse for why we end up in the red every single month. But now, it’s an actual, factual reality. According to a major new study, English renters spend more than half their income on rent. 

And it gets worse – much worse – if you’re young. According to the new English Housing Survey, among 16 to 24-year-olds rents take up a whopping 88% of incomes – or 81% once you take into account housing benefit. Either way: ouch. 

No wonder we feel like we exist in a work-to-live world. Most of our money really is being handed straight over to a landlord. But whaddya gonna do? Housing isn’t exactly a luxury – it’s pretty basic. Although good luck telling that to the current government – these stats make their plans to whip away housing benefit for under-21s seem even crueller. 

Rising rents squeeze you whatever stage of shitty renting you’re at. When I first moved to London, trying to break into journalism, I spent the first four months in spare rooms, on couches, in brief sub-lets – there was no way I could sign up to several hundreds going out of the bank like clockwork. Now those rents have skyrocketed so much further, they’ll be more than a few months out of reach for most people.

We all know that this means internships and jobs are more likely to go to the already wealthy; they’re the only ones who can afford to make so much rent while making so little money.

Flash forward five years of solid employment and you’d hope money-worries would have eased. Sadly, rents have gone up steeper than most people’s wages – the report shows an 8.2% rise last year. And the housing crisis means the standard of accommodation you get for most-of-your-salary is often weep-worthy.

Flat-hunting last year was the sort of feral competition that might have made into it Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest. If you weren’t the fastest first person to see that overpriced rabbit-hutch, you wouldn’t stand a chance of winning the privilege of forking out £750 a month for it and its mould blossoms. 

All this also means bye-bye savings. That good advice your mum used to give you about putting a little aside seems laughable. The only way it would be possible to save is if you’re happy to subsist on own-brand custard creams (the most calories for the littlest money!) and never go out. Which after a hard week’s working just in order to pay for the roof over our heads… well, we’ve earned a glass (or bottle) of house white, surely?

But no saving means no chance of getting out of the cycle of renting. The idea of buying a house is ever-more remote for the younger generation (unless the bank of mum and dad can help). David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, has commented that these latest renting figures were ‘yet another symptom of a very sick housing market that is carving ever-greater chasms between those who own a home and those who don’t.’

Sick is right – and it’s pretty much how this news makes us feel. 


Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Here’s One 20-year-old In The UK Who’ll Actually Get Housing Benefit

Six Reasons Why The Government’s Living Wage Is Nonsense

How To Decorate And Organise Your Shit Shared House 

Follow Holly on Twitter: @Holly_bops

Picture: Lukasz Wierzbowski