Young people and politics

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats parties have announced a number of policies affecting young people at their party conferences.

At the Conservative party conference, policy plans include:

  • Chancellor George Osborne announced that people under 21 (and without children) would be banned from claiming housing benefit and jobseekers' allowance. Young people would instead have access to a "youth allowance" for which they would be compelled to work for after six months. The £300million saved from the cuts will be spent on increasing the number of paid apprenticeships from two million to three million between 2015 and 2020.
  • Education Minister Nicky Morgan announced that creating “well-rounded” young people with “character, resilience and grit” is a new fifth priority for the Department for Education.
  • Jobcentre Plus coaches will work with young people from age 15 in schools across the country for the first time.

At the Labour party conference, policy plans included:

  • Developing a vocation education system and promising further education colleges focused on training for local jobs, two year apprenticeship, a technical baccalaureate, careers advice and technical degrees.
  • Working with the government to allow 16 year olds to vote at the 2015 general election.
  • Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan announced that Labour is exploring extending the remit of the Youth Justice Board to under-21s, to help reduce the numbers of 18 to 20 year olds coming into contact with the justice system and Labour pledged that funding would be made available to help youth offending teams deal with the additional work they would face.

At the Liberal Democrats party conference, policy plans included:

  • The National Curriculum will be overhauled to make personal, social and health education mandatory, including issues such as mental health, sexting, cyberbulling, FGM, sexual consent, and violence against women and girls;
  • Drug crime will be treated as a health issues and young people caught in possession of drugs will be either referred for treatment or given education on the dangers of drugs;
  • The pay rate for apprentices will be increased by a third in order to make vocational training more attractive;
  • Staff working with children will be legally obliged to report known or suspected incidents of abuse; and
  • Young people with early mental health symptoms will start receiving treatment within two weeks of being referred to a service.

More than 865,000 11 to 18 year olds cast a vote in UK Youth Parliament’s eight week Make Your Mark ballot this summer, an 81 percent rise on the 478,000 who took part last year.

During the ballot members of British Youth Council visited schools and ran online campaigns seeking young people’s views on 10 topics. Members of Youth Parliament will take a shortlist of the five most popular issues forward for discussion during their annual House of Commons debate, chaired by Speaker of the House John Bercow, on 14 November.

The five priority issues voted for by young people:

  • Votes at 16
  • Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage
  • Mental health service
  • Work experience; and
  • Bring back exam re-sits in Maths and English.

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