Wellbeing of young people stagnates at all time low post pandemic, warns Prince’s Trust Natwest annual research.

The Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2023, released recently, finds the overall wellbeing of 16–25-year-olds has flatlined, remaining at the lowest point in its fourteen-year history, with young people least happy and confident in their money and mental health.

It reveals the cost of living crisis (57 per cent) and coming recession (34 per cent) are young people’s biggest worries for the future, and how these concerns impact young people’s life goals and career aspirations. More than two fifths (46 per cent) state that economic uncertainty makes them feel hopeless about the future, rising to 55 per cent of those from poorer backgrounds [2]. 

The Youth Index is based on YouGov research with 2,025 16- to 25-year-olds across the UK, gauging young people’s confidence and happiness across a range of areas, from their physical and mental health to money and working life.

Young people’s happiness and confidence with money is now lower than when polling began in 2008 during the Global Financial Crisis, and 35 per cent agree that thinking about money depresses or stresses them, rising to 39 per cent of those from less affluent backgrounds.

The number of young people feeling that they will fail in life has increased among those from poorer backgrounds; 36 per cent reported this compared to 25 per cent 12 months ago [3]. One in two (56 per cent) young people say they always or often feel anxious and 62 per cent always or often stressed. More than two fifths (45 per cent) report ever experiencing a mental health problem.

Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust said: “Having already lived through one of the most turbulent times to be young, this year’s Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index is a warning sign that, post pandemic, young people’s wellbeing has not recovered. It reveals that for this generation – the Class of Covid – economic uncertainty is having a profound impact on their wellbeing and confidence in achieving their aspirations in the future.

“Most concerningly, the report also suggests that these challenges are hitting young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds hardest, with those who received free school meals or who are unemployed reporting consistently worse wellbeing in all aspects of life.”

Alison Rose DBE, Chief Executive of NatWest Group said

Young people’s confidence and happiness with money is now lower than during the Global Financial Crisis – which is something that should concern us all. This report provides a stark warning about the debilitating impact of economic pressures on young people’s lives, and emphasises the importance of providing the tools and support necessary to build their financial capability and confidence. As a bank, we are resolute in supporting young people to fulfil their potential, and will continue to work closely with the Prince’s Trust to ensure no one is left behind as they navigate the challenges ahead.”

The research also asked young people about their biggest goals in life, with almost two thirds reporting financial security (64 per cent), followed by good mental health (43 per cent) and having a family (36 per cent). Seventy per cent state that having a job gives them the financial stability they need and six in 10 (59 per cent) state being in work is good for their mental health.

However, almost half (47 per cent) of young people are worried about the impact of a recession on their job security, rising to over half (52 per cent) of those from poorer backgrounds. Forty-five per cent worry they will never earn enough to support a family, rising to 53 per cent of those from less affluent backgrounds. 

Despite the challenges facing young people, the research finds that more than two thirds (seventy per cent) of young people feel determined to achieve their goals in life. Sixty three per cent agree they can overcome the challenges they face, but need practical support to fulfil their potential, with similar numbers (64 per cent) agreeing they can overcome challenges, but need help to build their confidence and skills.

Jonathan Townsend said

The findings show us that young people remain determined to achieve their goals in life, but that they require practical support to do so. Employers, government, charities and individuals must work together to provide a lifeline for those who need us most.” 

The Prince’s Trust helps tens of thousands of young people each year to build the confidence and skills they need to realise their potential. Three in four young people on Prince’s Trust programmes move into work, education or training.  Its ‘Class of Covid’ campaign highlights the urgent need to support young people to regain their confidence and build their skills for the future. Search ‘Class of Covid’ or visit here to find out more. 

NatWest have worked in partnership with The Prince’s Trust for over 20 years, helping thousands of young people to start their own businesses, develop skills for employment and supported hundreds of staff to volunteer with young people across the UK.


1. Initial fieldwork for Youth Index 2009 conducted from 16th – 31st October 2008.
2. For the purposes of this research, “poorer or less affluent backgrounds” refers to those young people who state they received free school meals.
3. Overall, a quarter (26 per cent) of young people overall feel like they will fail in life.

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