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How will the election affect young people? Part 2

IN A study published by the Sutton Trust last year, it was also found that undergraduate debt in England was the highest in the English-speaking world, with students graduating with an average £44,000 debt looming over them. This may encourage the argument that less people are inclined to go to university due to the increase in fees and rising costs – leaving many young people with limited access to higher education or facing massive debts as an alternative.

Speaking to The Voice regarding the concerns of young black and minority ethnic (BME) voters, a Labour Party spokesperson said:

“Every young person has potential that should be realised; they should feel celebrated in a tolerant, forward-thinking and outward-looking Britain. We want young people from every background to face the future with optimism and confidence.

“Labour is the party that will unlock the potential of young BAME [black and minority ethnic] people. We will reintroduce an Education Maintenance Allowance [EMA] and abolish university tuition fees. This will give our young people real opportunities based on their gifts and talents, and not by the privilege of their birth.”

EMPLOYMENT

A survey by Opinium, which analysed the key concerns by young people, revealed that ensuring jobs are available scored as the highest concern among young voters (8.02). From unpaid internships to zero hours contracts, job security has been a consistent issue for today’s youth, making it difficult for them to plan ahead.

The issue of job security continues even more with zero hours contracts. Last year, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of people in zero hours contracts jumped 13% to a record 905,000. This means that almost one million people have no guaranteed hours in their main job with women and young people being the most affected. While the zero hours contract debate has yielded many different opinions – with critics saying the contract allows employers to avoid their responsibilities towards its workers – this form of insecure work makes it difficult for young people to gain job security and longevity.

REDUCING THE VOTING AGE TO 16

According to British Youth Council statistics, only one of the major parties doesn’t support lowering the voting age to 16 – and that is the party currently in power and who has a good chance of winning the general election. Speaking to the BBC, Theresa May said:


CONSERVING STATUS QUO: Prime Minister Theresa May

"You have to pick a point at which you think it is right for the voting age to be. I continue to think it is right for it to be 18."

Denying 16-17 year olds the ability to exercise their democratic right is something that’s been heavily debated, with many young voters disagreeing with the Conservative stance. To further encourage the youth to be involved in shaping their future and to avoid young voters becoming disillusioned with elections, their input could prove useful – as seen with the Scottish referendum.

Last year’s Scottish referendum – where votes at 16 were granted for the first time in the UK – showed that 109,533 16- 17-year-olds registered. A House of Commons research paper, using ONS population figures, says this constituted 89 per cent of those eligible. So why deny 16-17 year olds – about half a million people – a vote? This is a question asked by many young people. However, both Labour and Lib Dem have addressed plans to reduce the voting age in their manifestos.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

“Young people’s wishes have been swept under the rug since the EU referendum when 75% voted to remain. At a time of monumental political change, many feel hurt, ignored and powerless. That’s why the Liberal Democrats have put young people at the heart of their manifesto, and would give everyone aged 16 or over the final say on the Brexit deal in a referendum.”

To read part 1 of this piece, click here.

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