Press releases to journalists.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will examine different aspects of the reported knife crime epidemic in its next inquiry. The new committee of eleven young people, which is yet to be appointed, will embark on the inquiry in the Spring of 2019. Over 1.1 million young people declared knife crime their biggest concern in a UK-wide ballot of young people aged 11 to 18.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the ballot, said: “Young people have made it clear knife crime is their greatest concern and it’s imperative we hold decision-makers to account on this issue. The lives of young people are far too important to be ignored. We must work to identify and action the solutions available.
“Young people should have the opportunity to speak out on the knife crime epidemic we are facing. But they must also have a meaningful opportunity to influence the Government’s response.”
Research published by the House of Commons Library in November 2018, stated knife crime, particularly where it affects young people, has been a ‘persistent and growing concern’ for successive governments. The new committee will set out the key areas for exploration prior to seeking written and oral evidence from the public.
Following passionate debates in the House of Commons, Members of Youth Parliament have chosen to campaign on knife crime in 2019. The campaign has already received cross-party support including vocal support from Vicky Foxcroft MP, Chair of the Youth Violence Commission and Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford.
Earlier this year the Youth Select Committee examined the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience. The Committee called on the Government to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
Would you be interested in joining the Youth Select Committee? Apply to join now.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors has concluded that young people are dissatisfied with the way education is structured and have offered viewpoints on how it can be improved to reflect the needs of young people. The new report, which launched on Monday 3rd December 2018, also concludes young people feel incredibly unsupported when it comes to applying for jobs.
60% of the young people surveyed identified the need to have individual capacity for development, languages, internet and media literacy, adaptability to different contexts, democratic participation, intercultural dialogue and basic finance skills as very important to have in school curriculums.
The youth-led consultation, which was led by UK Young Ambassadors for Structured Dialogue, was carried out to establish what the needs of young people are in all the different policy aspects of the European Union. UK Young Ambassadors chose the topics which would resonate most with young people living in the UK and the issues they face. The extensive process investigated the following issues:
- What skills young people want to have developed in school, but don’t get the chance to, for their future endeavours?
- What can be further done to support young people in regards to their mental health and wellbeing?
- How to promote and integrate young people in rural areas?
- How to promote better nationally the programmes and services the EU offers for the development of young people?
- What is the best way to achieve equality and inclusion of marginalised groups?
- How can we further progress youth democratic participation?
On Wednesday 14th November, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the barriers faced by young people across the country in accessing quality work experience.
The report, titled ‘Realising the Potential of Work Experience’ is being launched in advance of a government response, and forms part of the UK Parliament Week festival. Work experience was chosen as the topic of the inquiry following thousands of votes in the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot, designed to give young people a voice.
Earlier this year a YouGov poll revealed over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier. The report launch comes at a time when House of Commons figures reveal almost half a million young people are unemployed.
The Committee’s key findings and recommendations include:
- Access to work experience remains patchy and inconsistent despite recent reforms.
- Who you are, where you live and where you go to school is associated with the kind and quality of work experience that you are likely to access.
- The Department for Education’s current approach of using benchmarks and working with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to improve quality is promising, however, this has not yet resulted in high-quality support becoming available for all young people.
- The Department for Education must commission a full, independent review into the CEC’s impact on access to work experience for the most disadvantaged young people.
- Government needs to do more to integrate work experience—in all its forms—with its industrial strategy.
- Government should work with schools, business and young people to develop a quality benchmarking scheme for businesses offering work experience.
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “Following our extensive inquiry, we have concluded the Government need to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people’s access to work experience.
“The Government must act now to ensure the most disadvantaged young people can access high-quality work experience.”
Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “From questioning business leaders to charity experts, the Youth Select Committee spent months investigating how high-quality work experience can help future-proof the UK’s economy. The result is a detailed report which again shows how essential the committee is in representing the views of our country’s future, now more than ever.
“I am delighted to see the launch of this report, and I am confident my Parliamentary colleagues will consider its conclusions. I am also certain it will provide an invaluable contribution to the wider discussions in this area.”
The Youth Select Committee is a joint initiative between UK Parliament and the British Youth Council, it gives young people from across the country the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them. The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on work experience was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of business, politics and the charity sector. Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.
UK Youth Parliament has chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and knife crime in 2019. The decision came following the UK Youth Parliament’s tenth House of Commons debate which was chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Knife crime was declared a top concern in the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot of over 1.1 million young people.
Votes at 16 continues to be an important issue for young people and has been voted as a campaign priority for the third year in a row. Alex McDermott, Member of Youth Parliament for Derbyshire who spoke on the issue of lowering the voting age said “Votes at 16 continues to be high on the agenda for young people.
“Young people have spoken out on this issue for long enough. It’s time for the Government to listen to young people and lower the voting age to 16”
Imogen White, Member of Youth Parliament for Member of Youth Parliament for Essex, who spoke on a knife which was chosen as the priority campaign for England, said: “Knife crime is the largest concern of young people across the UK. Young people shouldn’t have to fear for their lives or feel they have to turn to violent weapons just to feel safe in their communities.
“The knife crime epidemic is crippling our nation and the Government must do everything in their power to protect young people.”
Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons responded to the news.
Norman Lamb MP, Member of Parliament for North Norfolk said: “Soaring knife crime is destroying the safety and fabric of our communities, with teenagers and young people most at risk.
“The number of fatal stabbings rose by 16% in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017, while new NHS figures show that 13 people on average were admitted to hospital every day following a knife attack last year.
“The Government must do more to tackle this crisis, but extra policing alone is not the answer. We need a public health approach that tackles the root causes of violent crime, including investment in community services designed to prevent youth violence and support those who are at risk of offending. This is a major concern for young people across the country and I welcome that the UK Youth Parliament is treating it as a priority.”
Vicky Foxcroft MP, Member of Parliament for Lewisham, who attended the House of Commons Sitting said: “I was pleased to hear that the UK Youth Parliament were discussing knife crime in Parliament.
“In September I was fortunate enough to meet London members of the Youth Parliament in Westminster to discuss the work we’ve been doing on the Youth Violence Commission.
“Their knowledge and passion on how we tackle knife crime was so clear. They recognised the importance of early intervention and prevention and showed a real understanding of how the public health model works and what it can deliver.
“Their views on how knife crime affects them and their communities should rightly be heard by all politicians.”
Ross Thomson MP, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South, said:
“It is striking that knife crime has emerged as the top issue identified by young people in this survey.
“In my constituency of Aberdeen South, a teenager was killed at school in an incident involving a knife three years ago.
“It is up to MPs from all parties to do what they can to reduce the risk of future incidents.
“That means educating young people about the dangers of knives and changing the law where appropriate. For example, I have been supportive of moves to tighten up legislation around the sale of weapons online.
“This is an issue where MPs from across the house should be working together to address this growing problem affecting our young people.”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2019. UK Youth Parliament will now begin to develop campaign actions for the campaigns ahead.
The British Youth Council are delighted to welcome new minister for Civil Society, Mims Davies MP, who will take on responsibility for youth policy at the Office for Civil Society following the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
The Government have ignored calls from the British Youth Council and Members of Parliament from across the House of Commons for a dedicated youth minister. The British Youth Council will be writing to the Minister highlighting continued concerns with the size of the brief which will reportedly include other responsibilities. Since 2010, the Government have failed to appoint a Minister responsible solely for young people, despite repeated requests for a minister which can champion the voices of young people.
Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It’s a real shame that the Government have decided to ignore calls for a Youth Minister.
“In order for young people’s voices to be championed effectively across Government, it is important this brief is made smaller. We can’t see how this can be carried out when the Minister will continue to have so many responsibilities”
The British Youth Council will also use this as an opportunity to draw attention the latest ballot of young people which concluded knife crime was a top concern for young people living in the UK. The nation-wide ballot of 11-18 year olds saw more than 1.1 million young people take part making it the largest consultation of its kind in UK history.
The British Youth Council currently work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to deliver the Youth Voice programme. The programme aims to give young people the opportunity to influence public decision-making at a local and national level.
Commenting on the appointment of the new minister, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council is looking forward to working with the new minister to ensure the Government remains committed to young people’s voices being heard right across the Government.
“This is a crucial time for the country, it’s vital young people are part of the decision making that is taking place at all levels of the Government.”
On Friday 9th November, Members of the Youth Parliament will debate topics as diverse as knife crime, votes at 16, and homelessness, as part of their annual session in the House of Commons Chamber. Over 250 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
The sitting will become the ninth session of the UK Youth Parliament in the Commons Chamber and the topics for debate were selected through the annual Make Your Mark campaign. This was the UK’s largest ever ballot of young people, with over 1.1 million young people aged 11-18 voting. The campaign was coordinated by the British Youth Council with the support of local authorities, the UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The debates raise the curtain on this year’s UK Parliament Week (12-18 November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
Morning session 11:00am -12:50pm
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/
- Tackling Homelessness
Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Equal Pay, Equal Work.
Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
Afternoon session 1:40pm- 4:00pm
- Mental Health
Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
- Put an end to Knife crime
Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2019 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to some women and all men.
The debates will be streamed live, with a 20 minute delay, on parliamentlive.tv and UK Parliament’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Highlights from the debates will also be broadcast on BBC Parliament from 12noon on Saturday 10th November.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am very pleased to be welcoming Members of the Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for the 9th time. This annual event is now a well- established and important moment in the parliamentary calendar. At such turbulent times it is vital that the voices of our future are heard – and the fact that over a million people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs, shows that young people are engaging fully and enthusiastically with the democratic process.”
Marcus Dyke, Member of Youth Parliament for Kingston upon Thames, said “Members of Youth Parliament will takeover the Commons chamber to debate the top concerns of young people in the UK.
“These issues were chosen in a nationwide ballot of over 1.1 million young people. Their voices must be heard! It’s imperative that moving forward, young people’s views are not only given a platform but are listened to by decision makers across the country.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House of the Commons, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UK Youth Parliament being the only external group allowed to hold debates in the House of Commons Chamber.
Andrea Leadsom MP commented: “At such a crucial time for our country, we need to hear the voices of young people, who will help steer our future.
“UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to raise the issues they care about most, right in the heart of our democracy. I know that MPs in Parliament and Ministers in Whitehall will listen carefully to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “I am delighted to welcome and to hear Members of the Youth Parliament to the House for the 9th time. Over a million young people voted to select the topics.
“From mental health to promoting democracy and tackling the scourge of knife crime, these are all extremely pertinent issues, and I look forward to an engaging debate which I am sure will be of the usual high standard.”
Commenting on the joint-letter, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council welcome Cross-Party support for a dedicated Minister for Young People.
“We feel its imperative the Government use this as an opportunity to make this portfolio smaller. Young people’s voices should be heard by decision-makers at every level of the Government and we can’t see how this can be prioritised in such a large brief.”
The British Youth Council has issued a statement calling for the Government to appoint a Youth Minister.
Cross-Party group of MPs write to Prime Minister asking for dedicated Minister for Young People
25 MPs have put their name to a letter sent to the Prime Minister asking for a dedicated Minister for Young people after the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP.
Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Green MP’s all signed the letter which was sent to the Prime Minister this afternoon.
Currently, the Minister responsible for Young People takes on a number of other roles including gambling, sport, civil society and loneliness. MPs believe that this brief is too big for anyone minister to be across properly.
The lead signature on the letter is Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP who is the current Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs, said;
“Tracey was a fine Minister but even a superhuman couldn’t handle the workload expected of that multi-portfolio and with the current crisis we’re having with youth crime and violence we need a dedicated minister for Young People.
“We are not trying to score party political point here this is a group of cross-party MPs who simply want what has existed under previous Labour and Conservative Governments, that is a dedicated Minister for Young People.”
The British Youth Council is sad to learn that, Tracey Crouch MP, has resigned as Sports & Civil Society Minister. The former Minister, who has held the brief since June 2017, played a crucial in ensuring young people’s voices were built into the Civil Society Strategy. In response to the news, the British Youth Council has reignited calls for the Government to appoint a Youth Minister.
Commenting on the resignation of Tracey Crouch MP, Jo Hobbs, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council said: “I’d like to thank Tracey Crouch for being a fantastic advocate of youth voice throughout her tenure as Sports & Civil Society Minister.
“Tracey was pivotal in ensuring youth voice was built into the Civil Society Strategy.”
It has been a longstanding view of the British Youth Council that the Government should appoint a Minister solely responsible for young people – a role which has not existed since 2010. The Government have ignored previous calls for a youth minister, despite attempts to highlight concerns with the size of the brief.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council have repeatedly highlighted concerns with the ever-growing ministerial brief.
“We firmly believe the Government should appoint a Youth Minister who can champion the voices of young people at the heart of Government.
In August the Government formally committed to reviewing the guidance which sets out the statutory duty placed on local authorities to provide appropriate youth services.
Amanda went on to say: “The British Youth Council will be seeking reassurances from the Office for Civil Society, ensuring it remains firmly committed to reviewing the guidance for local authorities on youth provisions.”
More than one million young people declared ending knife crime a top priority for young people living in the UK. Make Your Mark called on teenagers to choose which issue they felt was a priority. Last week it was revealed that knife crime had risen by 12% in just a year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said police recorded almost 40,000 knife or “sharp instrument” offences in the 12 months leading up to June, the highest number on record.
This year’s Make Your Mark campaign has seen 1,111,580 young people take part, making it one of the largest youth consultations of its kind in UK history, with nearly 1 in 5 of all young people aged 11-18 taking part. The Make Your Mark ballot is run by the British Youth Council with support from Local Authorities, schools, Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated on the green benches of the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament.
Each issue will be discussed within the chamber on Friday 9th November during the UK Youth Parliament’s eighth sitting in the House of Commons. This years debate is due to be chaired by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons who has chaired every debate in the House of Commons since their first sitting in 2009.
The five issues that have been prioritised are:
- Put an end to Knife crime – Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
- Mental Health – Mental health services should be improved with young
- people’s help; and should be available in schools..
- Equal Pay, Equal Work – Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
- Tackling Homelessness – Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Votes at 16 – Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/referendums.
Speaking on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, Brahmpreet Kaur Gulati, said: “Knife crime in the UK continues to escalate and for far too long, the threat of knife culture has not been addressed by decision makers and this needs to change”
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair, British Youth Council, the charity which commissioned the consultation, said: “It’s phenomenal to see so many young people take part in this years Make Your Mark survey, in which we had the highest number of young people ever taking part. Young people from across the UK voted in record numbers to ensure their voices were heard, and decision makers must take note of their priorities.”
The sitting of Members of Youth Parliament is still the only time anyone other than MPs debate on the famous green benches with MPs only recently granting access for this new term of Parliament. The debates will be concluded with a vote to decide on which issues should become their priority campaign in 2018.
The Electoral Reform Society has today released a report damning the 2018 Voter ID pilots as ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’. At this year’s local elections five areas trialled different forms of ID requirements as a measure to prevent voter fraud. However, as highlighted by the report, in a single day across the five councils twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID as have been accused of personation, the type of fraud that ID prevents, in eight years across the whole of the UK.
The British Youth Council is among many voluntary and community sector organisations who have already raised concerns about the impact of Voter ID on the participation of marginalised communities across the UK. Evaluations have shown that those in lower socio-economic groups and younger voters were less likely to know about the ID requirements. The Windrush scandal this year has highlighted the difficulties that some legitimate voters could have in accessing identity documents. In the UK we do not have a universal and free form of photographic ID, meaning that there are financial barriers to providing photographic ID, and additional hoops to step through to gain a free locally accepted ID.
“Throughout history, the power of the vote and, equal access to voting, is something that so many have fought for – with young people being some of those who continue that battle to this day,” says British Youth Council Trustee Larissa Kennedy. “It seems oxymoronic that, in the year that we are celebrating the centenary of the extension of the franchise to some women, and 90 years since the vote was extended to all women and men over 21, that we are simultaneously putting barriers in the way of people accessing their vote.”
At the recent full Council meeting of the British Youth Council, a motion opposing the introduction of voter ID was passed by the membership, calling on the Government to reconsider the current approach and to look at different solutions that are proportionate to the actual risk posed by voter fraud, and calling on the Electoral Commission to examine the impact of voter ID trials on marginalised communities, including young people, to ensure that the impacts are not disproportionately felt by those communities.
“We heard from young people in one of the pilot areas that they were left feeling that only the smart and well educated would be voting’,” said Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council. “Democratic participation is a crucial responsibility of every member of society and attempts to deal with voter fraud must not disproportionately harm access to democracy. In the 2017 UK Parliamentary elections, 13 seats were won with a majority less than the number of people denied a vote in Bromley. The introduction of voter ID has a huge potential to swing the outcome of elections, reducing the voice of those already marginalised from the democratic process and creating a greater sense of disillusionment with the democratic process.”
The British Youth Council believes that the right to vote of young people and other marginalised communities must be protected. We will continue to stand alongside the Electoral Reform Society and other voluntary and community sector organisations to call for the voices of the marginalised to be heard and to remove barriers to democratic participation.