About 77% of young people now live in debt, with many at a “crisis point” because there is inadequate financial advice and support for this age group, a survey has found.
Rainer, the charity for under-supported young people, said it was a misconception that debt only affected students.
It noted that many vulnerable people who are reliant on benefits use credit cards and overdrafts when they experience delays or problems with accessing the benefit system.
The survey, carried out by Rainer and YouGov, showed that a third of young people owe more than £5,000 and one in five owes more than £10,000.
It found that after paying loan repayments and bills, one in five young people live on £50 a month and one in ten are left with no money to pay for food or other living expenses.
Joyce Moseley, chief executive of Rainer, said: “Young people tell us that being in debt is now just part of the norm, but it can quickly become a millstone around their neck.
“In addition to the stress it can cause, there is strong evidence that debt can prevent young people from living independently or taking part in education or even eating healthily.”
Rainer is urging the government to offer “jargon-free” financial advice and provide support for vulnerable groups, such as the homeless or care leavers.