Growing debt among young people

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has warned of a “pronounced” build up of debt among young people.

In an interview with the BBC, Andrew Bailey said the young were having to borrow for basic living costs.

The regulator also said he “did not like” some high-cost lending schemes.

He said consumers, and institutions that lend to them, should be aware that interest rates may rise in the future and that credit should be “affordable”.

The head of the FCA was talking to the BBC as part of its ‘Money Matters’ coverage, looking at the issues of credit and debt in the UK.

Mr Bailey said action was being taken to curb long-term credit card debt and high-cost pay-day loans.

The regulator is also looking at charges in the rent-to-own sector which can leave people paying high levels of interest for buying white goods such as washing machines, he added.

“There is a pronounced build up of indebtedness amongst the younger age group,” Mr Bailey said.

“We should not think this is reckless borrowing, this is directed at essential living costs. It is not credit in the classic sense, it is [about] the affordability of basic living in many cases.”

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Young UK workers jobs at risk of automation

Almost a third of young workers could lose their jobs by the 2030s as automation reduces the need for manpower, a report by PwC has revealed.

The consultancy explained the wholesale and retail industry, where nearly a quarter of 16-24-year-olds work, could be the worst hit by automation. PwC predicted that up to 44% of those employed in the sector could lose their jobs as a result of technology.

Although there will be more opportunity for young people to become more involved in the robotics and automation industry if their current roles are at threat, only 4% of those aged between 16 and 24 are employed in that particular sector as it stands, leaving a big skills gap.

“Our research shows that the impact of technology advances on jobs will be felt more profoundly by some groups than others, with education level a key differentiator,” said Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC UK. “As new technology advances bring innovation we need to be careful that the impact of this is progressive and does not create barriers. Businesses have a critical role to play in creating the jobs and helping the UK workforce build the skills of the future.”

The report added that up to 30% of all jobs across the UK could become automated over the next 15 years and it’s vital young people receive the training and education to ensure they can find alternative roles less affected by automation.

“Empowering young workers to succeed in an increasingly automated world will be crucial to the long-term success of the UK economy,” Hawksworth said. “The government has already taken positive steps in recent years with initiatives to boost vocational training and apprenticeships, but an increased focus on STEM skills will help to close the technology gap with leading international economies and maximise the economic and employment benefits of automation.” Source: itpro.co.uk




Teenagers facing more mental health difficulties

A quarter of girls and nearly one in 10 boys show signs of depression at the age of 14, say UK researchers.

The government-funded study of over 10,000 young people looked at how many experienced the signs of depression not a clinical diagnosis of one.

Being from a poorer background or being of mixed or white ethnic background appeared to raise the risk.

Surveys with their parents, however, suggested many were not attuned to the true anxieties of their children.

Parents often underestimated daughters’ stress and had concerns about sons that the boys themselves did not voice.

Lead investigator Dr Praveetha Patalay, from Liverpool University, said teenagers, and particularly girls, were facing more mental health difficulties than previous generations – although the study did not look at this.

Many factors could be contributing, including exam stress and worries about body image, experts believe.

However, the rise could also be down to a greater willingness to acknowledge mental health problems by society.

The Millennium Cohort Study survey suggests:
* Teenage girls report more anxiety and depressive symptoms than boys

* 14-year-olds from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to report depressive symptoms than peers from better-off families

* Girls from mixed and white ethnic backgrounds are the most likely to report high depressive symptoms

* Black African girls are least likely to report high depressive symptoms at this age

* For boys, those from mixed and other ethnic groups are at greatest risk of depressive symptoms

* Bangladeshi and Indian boys are the least likely to report these symptoms

* Agreement between self- and parent-reported emotional symptoms of 14-year-olds is weak

Half of all cases of adult mental illness start by the age of 14, and it is important they are diagnosed and treated early. Read more





Homelessness has increased in UK – the NAO

The number of homeless families in the UK has risen by more than 60% and is “likely to have been driven” by the government’s welfare reforms, the public spending watchdog has said.

Homelessness of all kinds has increased “significantly” over the last six years, said the NAO (National Audit Office). It accused the government of having a “light touch approach” to tackling the problem.

The government said it was investing £550m by 2020 to address the issue. There has been a 60% rise in households living in temporary accommodation – which includes 120,540 children – since 2010/11, the NAO said.

A snapshot overnight count last autumn found there were 4,134 rough sleepers – an increase of 134% since the Conservatives came into government, it added.

Four-year freeze
A report by the watchdog found rents in England have risen at the same time as households have seen a cut to some benefits.

Homelessness cost more than £1bn a year to deal with, it said.

Reforms to the local housing allowance are “likely to have contributed” to making it more expensive for claimants to rent privately and “are an element of the increase in homelessness,” the report added. Read more





Biggest fear among British children

British children’s biggest fear is becoming a victim of crime, according The Children’s Society’s annual report.
Among 10 to 17-year-olds, almost 40% worry about crime and are particularly fearful of theft, being followed by a stranger or being assaulted.

The Children’s Society’s annual report, which surveyed 3,000 children and their parents, found that overall, levels of happiness continue to fall each year. It wants the government to increase funding for vulnerable children.

After their safety, parental debt and money struggles damage children’s happiness the most, the charity’s annual Good Childhood Report found.

Men blowing kisses
Though the fear of crime is widespread, the fear is greater than the reality – with 17% of children reporting that they had been a victim of crime in the last 12 months. One in three teenage girls are fearful of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys are worried they will be assaulted, the charity reported.

Some 24% of children fear become a victim of theft, 20% fear being threatened with violence and 17% are scared of being shouted at on the street.
One teenage girl told the charity: “[They’re] blowing kisses, men beeping, standing asking [your] age, whistling, shouting, stopping vans next to you, asking for [your] number.”

A 13-year-old boy said: “You’ve got to fight to, like, kind of survive around this area. You have to stick up for yourself the whole time.”
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said it was “alarming” to see the range of problems young people are contending with.

“Teenagers are coming under pressure in all areas of their lives, whether it’s being afraid to walk down their street, worrying about money, or having a parent who’s seriously unwell, and this is damaging their wellbeing,” he said.

“Sadly, we know many of these teenagers will only get help if they reach crisis point – such as running away from home, or abusing alcohol or drugs.” Read more