Stumped by the system

25 August, 2015

Survey reveals barriers to young people sorting out their everyday problems

Youth Access has published findings from the Big Advice Survey* relating to young people’s legal capability and their use of technology when seeking information and advice about everyday social welfare issues (e.g. relating to benefits, debt, housing or employment).

Legal capability

  • 52% of young people said they did not feel confident about sorting out their problems themselves.
  • The most common barriers to dealing with problems cited by young people were knowing how the system works, dealing with staff or authorities face to face and handling paperwork and forms.
  • Young people were half as likely as other respondents to have ever contacted an advice agency such as a CAB for advice.
  • Young people’s reasons for not seeking advice tended to relate to difficulties knowing where to start with the whole process or a lack of awareness that getting advice might be a helpful course of action.

Use of technology

  • Whereas older adults were most likely to access the Internet via a laptop or PC at home, young people’s most likely methods of access were via mobile phones, smartphones or tablets.
  • Most young people felt confident in their ability to use the Internet to look for information to help deal with a problem.
  • However, 23% of young people said that using email and online services was a potential barrier for them when thinking about how to deal with a problem.
  • Ringing up the agency or visiting in person were more popular methods of contacting an advice agency than through use of technology.

Further details are set out in our short report (PDF)

Get the data (Excel)

These findings should be read in conjunction with other, extensive evidence we have published on young people’s advice needs and advice-seeking behaviour over the last decade. Go to our advice publications page

Email admin@youthaccess.org.uk for further information.


*The Big Advice Survey was a national survey of the general public undertaken by Wandsworth Citizens Advice Bureau as part of a project funded under the Big Lottery’s Advice Services Transition Fund and set out to gather data about the everyday problems people experience in their lives and how they deal with them. A total of 3,113 people responded, including 110 young people aged between 16 and 24.
Read further information about the Big Advice Survey.

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