What do the political party manifestos say about youth voice?

With the 2024 general election fast approaching, political parties in the UK have released their manifestos outlining their key policies - what does it mean for young people in the UK?

What do the political party manifestos say about youth voice?

Voting time is almost upon us - have you decided which party you’ll be standing with? In this explainer article, we will outline the key policies in the 2024 election manifestos from the four major political parties in the UK: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. By looking at their key policies on issues such as education, employment, and health and wellbeing support, we can better understand how each party plans to address the needs of young people in the upcoming election.

Conservatives

The Conservative Party's manifesto for the 2024 election focuses on providing opportunities for young people to succeed and thrive in a post-pandemic world. Key policies related to young people include:

  1. Education. The Conservatives have pledged to invest in improving the quality of education for all young people. They also plan to expand vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities to help young people gain the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

    1. Mandate two hours of PE every week in primary and secondary schools

    2. Require schools to ban the use of mobile phones during the school day

    3. Introduce the Advanced British Standard, a combination of A-level and technical qualifications 

    4. Close university courses in England with high drop-out rates to fund 100,000 extra apprenticeships a year 

  1. Employment. They also aim to create millions of new jobs through supporting small businesses to boost economic growth. 

    1. Reinvent National Service, giving young people a choice between civic service, for example volunteering in the NHS for one weekend a month, or a year-long, paid role through military service 

  1. Health and wellbeing. The Conservatives want to implement new initiatives to support young people's mental well-being.

    1. Open early support hubs for those aged 11-25 in every local community by 2030

    2. Create the first ever smoke free generation and reduce the appeal and availability of vapes

Read more from their 2024 manifesto here.

Labour

A big win for youth voice and representation, Labour promises to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in all elections, in order to “increase the engagement of young people in our vibrant democracy.” This is a massive step to engage young people and potentially get more 18-25 year olds on side too.

The Labour Party's manifesto for the 2024 election focuses on addressing the challenges young people face in today's society and creating a fairer, more inclusive future for all. According to the current polling, Labour are leading the charge and are the party to beat.

Let’s take a look at Labour’s key policies. 

  1. Education. Labour pledges to invest in education and ensure that every young person has access to high-quality schooling. They also plan to provide free school meals for all primary school children.

    1. Create free breakfast clubs in every primary school

  1. Invest in 6,500 new expert teachers funded by ending tax breaks for private schools

  2. Ensure schools address misogyny and teach young people about healthy relationships and consent

  1. Employment. The party has decided to focus on support for training and Technical Excellence Colleges to create highly skilled workforces. 

    1. A guarantee of access to training, an apprenticeship, or support to find work for all 18 to 21-year-olds

    2. A guarantee of two weeks’ worth of work experience for every young person

  1. Health and wellbeing. Labour has committed to investing in mental health services and integrating mental health education into the school curriculum. They also plan to establish a national mental health strategy to address the root causes of mental health issues in young people.

  1. Put youth workers in A&E units and custody centres, and youth mentors in pupil referral units 

  2. Ensure that young people presenting to the NHS with gender dysphoria are receiving appropriate and high-quality care 

Finally, there is a big focus in Labour’s manifesto on housing and supporting young adults to become house owners. Labour plans to build 1.5 million new homes and introduce rent controls to make housing more accessible and affordable for young people, so that the “dream of homeownership” is not out of reach. They also want to increase support for renters and crack down on landlords who exploit tenants.

Read more from their 2024 manifesto here.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats' manifesto for the 2024 election focuses on building a brighter future for the country, with a fair deal on economy, public services, the environment and democracy. Like Labour, they also propose voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds, but also further measures to address young people’s voice, with a new Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People. The Lib Dems also hope to introduce a proportional representation voting system and to decentralise decision making power. 

  1. Education. The Liberal Democrats pledge to invest in education and reduce class sizes to ensure that every young person receives the support they need to succeed. They also plan to introduce a pupil premium scheme to provide extra funding for disadvantaged students.

    1. Create a tutoring guarantee for children from low-income families who need extra help, and tripling the early years pupil premium

    2. Place a qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school

    3. Bring back university maintenance grants, for student from low income families

  1. Employment. The party wants to increase diversity in the workplace and up the minimum wage to ensure young people are employed without discrimination and paid fairly for their work.

    1. Set a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts

    2. Require large employers to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity,

disability, and LGBT+ employment levels

  1. Health and wellbeing. A key focus in the policies of the Lib Dems is mental health equality. They hope to focus on early access to mental health services, by scheduling check up at appropriate ages and also protect LGBT+ communities’ safety in the law.  

  1. Establish mental health hubs for young people in every community

  2. Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law

  3. Recognise non-binary identities in law and reform the gender recognition process

  4. Complete ban on so-called conversion therapy

Read more from their 2024 manifesto here.

Green

The Green Party's manifesto for the 2024 election paints the background of the election as the ongoing climate crisis and increasingly volatile world. The main focus is on creating a sustainable future and addressing the climate crisis. 

  1. Education. The Greens pledge to transform education to prepare young people for a green economy and sustainable future. They plan to introduce a climate change curriculum in schools and invest in green skills training for young people.

    1. Scrap “high-stakes testing” in schools and abolish their regulator, Ofsted

    2. Boost funding for schools by £8bn, including £2bn for teachers’ pay

    3. Introduce a climate change curriculum in schools

    4. Scrap undergraduate university tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants

  1. Employment. The Green Party wants to advocate for a circular economy that reduces the waste of resources, rather than focussing on endless economic growth. Through this, they hope to create new jobs that are part of a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. 

    1. Significant investment in a green economic transformation, for example nationalisation of water and energy and electric trains

    2. Investment in skills and training, allowing workers to be prepared for the transition and the new roles they can take on

  1. Health and wellbeing.  To put mental health on equal footing with physical, 

  1. Enable people to access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days

Read more from their 2024 manifesto here.

With election day coming closer, the election manifestos present each party’s visions for the future of our country. The policies and promises outlined in this article are merely a few selected areas. While the Conservatives focus on economic growth and job creation, Labour prioritises investment in education and young people’s votes. As voters, it is important to carefully consider these manifestos and choose the party that aligns most closely with our own values and beliefs.

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Sadhana Narayanan

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