Fifty-one UK youth organisations have signed an open letter to the main UK political parties asking them to make firm commitments to young people. Amongst the signatories are UK Youth chief executive, Anna Smee; British Youth Council chief executive, Jo Hobbs; Volunteering Matters chief executive, Oonagh Aitken; Young Minds chief executive, Sarah Brennan; and Girlguiding’s chief executive, Julie Bentley.
It would be interesting to know the full list of organisations signed up to the welcome plea and how they came to be involved. More importantly, the request seems to miss the opportunity to make concrete demands upon the political parties, all the more so as the letter claims that their collective research has unearthed the key issues faced by young people. My apologies if I’m missing something here and that these have been identified in a supplement to the letter.
Off the top of my head, a less than an exhaustive list of demands could have included:
- Lower the voting age to 16
- Abolish tuition fees in HE and restore maintenance grants
- Bring under-25 National Living Wage in line with 25-year-olds.
- End zero-hour contracts.
- Prioritise a serious and properly funded strategy to end child poverty.
- Implement immediately a building programme to create affordable, quality housing.
- Restore funding and render statutory youth work provision.
- Maintain and expand opportunities to live, work and study abroad.
- Introduce Proportional Representation.
- Recognise that public services for the common good are essential to a vibrant and inclusive democracy.
The letter in full as best I know
Dear Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and Leanne Wood,
As Britain prepares for a snap general election, we call on you to make a firm commitment to young people across the country.
Since the referendum last year, our organisations have worked to engage young people from every part of the UK and from all backgrounds and political persuasions to present a clear plan for what they want from post-Brexit Britain.
Our national research and consultation has given us a strong and consistent picture of the top issues that matter to young people in post-Brexit Britain.
We can show you that younger generations are united on the big issues that will shape their future.
Now more than ever, their overwhelming demand to be part of the political process must be acted upon.
As the generation that will live longest with the outcome of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, we ask you to recognise that young people can have a positive impact on the Brexit negotiations and give real legitimacy to the process.
This election offers a huge opportunity to reshape the nation’s priorities and restore young people’s confidence in our democracy.
As you put together your platform for the general election, we are calling on all party leaders to make an explicit commitment to represent young people’s demands in their upcoming manifestos.
As you all prepare for this election we will all be galvanising our networks to ensure young citizens are engaged and registered to vote. We are calling on you to give them something to vote for.