Press releases to journalists.
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.
Young people can now take part in the UK Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign, the UK’s largest survey of young people’s views. Young people aged 11-18 are invited to take part in the ballot to shortlist what is debated in the House of Commons by Members of Youth Parliament later this year.
The annual ballot, which has taken place since 2011, contains 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including ending period poverty, mental health in schools, tackling homelessness and adapting the curriculum.
The campaign will see Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth groups to take this opportunity to have their say and to inform and influence the Government and decision makers in their communities.
This year’s campaign, which is supported by the British Youth Council, is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of young people from across the UK. Last year, a total of 954,766 young people from every corner of the country took part.
Kira Lewis, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “For the eighth time in history, UK Youth Parliament will give young people across the country the chance to declare which issues are a priority for them.
“Young people are passionate about seeing change in their community and it’s important that politicians address the concerns of young people. Make Your Mark gives decision makers a direct insight into the priorities of young people living in the UK and I hope many will take action once young people have had their say!”
Following the campaign, priority issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, who is due to attend the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting and will reply on behalf of the Government.
The Commons debate, which will take place on 9th November 2018, will be chaired by Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference in Nottingham last month. After the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should become their priority campaigns for 2019. In previous years, mental health, tackling racism and religious discrimination and a lower voting age have been prioritised.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “The Make Your Mark ballot is an excellent opportunity for millions of young people across the UK to celebrate the democratic process and make their voices heard.
“Last year, almost a million young people voted for the crucial motions to be debated by Members of Youth Parliament, and this year looks like it will be no different. I look forward to welcoming the Members of the Youth Parliament and presiding over some truly inspiring debates.”
Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark
The Government have released their new civil society strategy, revealing plans to tackle big societal issues. The British Youth Council welcome the Government’s new commitment to review the guidance which sets out the statutory duty placed on local authorities to provide appropriate youth services.
The Government shift comes following years of campaigning by the British Youth Council and campaigns like Choose Youth which have been working to convince the Government of the important role youth services play. In the past, the Government have resisted calls for statutory youth services despite clear evidence of the positive impact they’ve had on young people living in the UK.
The British Youth Council believes properly funded youth services aid young people in their personal development and their ability to function in a fast-changing society. We call on the Government and local councils to protect the budgets of such invaluable services and to ensure adequate financial and organisational provision is given to local council-run youth organisations. This will allow for a fairer, safer and stronger environment for young people.
Since 2010, youth services have suffered as a result of financial cuts and restrictions despite the thousands of young people who rely on these vital services. Youth services deliver a wide range of social and personal educational services to young people from sex and relationship advice to learning how to interact with peers. We know that youth services provide a supportive place for young people to become a force for good in society and we believe that the Government must recognise the difference these services make.
The British Youth Council also welcome the Government’s commitment to empowering young people to ‘shape the future of the country’. We believe it’s absolutely vital young people able to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives. In the strategy, the Government states young people should be ‘systematically involved in shaping the policies that affect them’.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council are excited to hear the Government are open to changing their view on statutory youth services. We’ve been clear for many years, the role of youth services is far too important to be left to chance. Young people should have access to high-quality youth services, regardless of where they live.
“We’re really pleased the Government have recognised the importance of providing young people with a meaningful opportunity to influence the design and implementation of programmes which affect them. We hope the Government continue to involve young people in its decision making because young people are passionate about the issues that affect them and their communities”
UK Youth Parliament will soon launch their new manifesto following an intense debate at their Annual Conference in Nottingham. Over the weekend over 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK came to together to debate new policies and campaigns for the year ahead.
Members of Youth Parliament debated and voted on the issues during the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference which took place at the University of Nottingham. During the debates Members of Youth Parliament discussed putting an end to knife crime, tackling homelessness, welcoming refugees, supporting youth services, mental health in school, tackling hate crime and the importance of ensuring sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
During the three day conference, Members of Youth Parliament marked the Vote 100 campaign celebrating 100 years since some women were given the right to vote in elections. Representatives were addressed by Joy Warmington, CEO of brap, an expert in leadership development and coaching. Alison Kriel, CEO of the AMAYA Trust addressed in the closing ceremony sharing her personal experiences of having to persevere growing up and in the workplace.
John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, returned to the Annual Conference to address Members of Youth Parliament ahead of the UK Youth Parliament’s Sitting in the House of Commons which will take place in November following this year’s Make Your Mark campaign.
Brahmpreet Gulati, Procedures Groups representative for the East Midlands, the group which coordinate the event said: “This year UK Youth Parliament marked 100 years since some women were given the vote. An important milestone in the political calendar, and one we marked throughout this year’s conference. Equality has not yet fully been achieved but we as the next generation must continue on this journey.
During the conference Members of Youth Parliament debated how we could better support the LGBT+ community, sexism, hate crime and a whole host of issues facing young people in the UK. In our new manifesto, we’re calling on decision-makers to address the issues that young people are passionate about.”
Find out more about UK Youth Parliament
The Government have published plans to introduce mandatory relationships and health education in schools, according to a statement released by the Department for Education. The British Youth Council welcome the new additional commitment to mandatory health education which will accompany existing commitments to introduce mandatory relationships and sex education.
The British Youth Council have been working to convince the Government to introduce statutory and compulsory high-quality citizenship and sex and relationship education to the curriculum for a number of years. In 2013, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee report ‘A Curriculum for Life’ concluded life skills education in schools fell well short of its full potential and youth representatives have been working to convince the Government to make concrete commitments since.
The British Youth Council believes that students should leave our education systems equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience to become active, well-informed and confident members of their local, national and global communities. This means making sure that education covers politics and democratic life, as well as social issues such as sex and relationship education.
It’s evident that young people feel that the current citizenship education and SRE curriculum provisions are inadequate and that they are being denied a better understanding of themselves, relationships, society and politics. Young people have repeatedly called for a curriculum for life, most recently in UK Youth Parliament’s 2017 Make Your Mark ballot of 954,766 young people, when the issue was voted a top priority.
The current scope of the citizenship curriculum is too narrow and should encompass wider political and constitutional rights, as well as social issues including global citizenship and sustainability, legal rights and financial literacy, human rights, liberation, diversity and information regarding mental health.
The latest development is the first time the Government have made a commitment to ensure pupils are taught about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, what determines their physical health and how to build mental resilience and wellbeing. Mental health, wellbeing and body image have all remained important issues for young people, with last year’s Youth Select Committee concluding body dissatisfaction causing long-lasting consequences for young people and the 2016 Youth Select Committee concluding that more needed to be done to help young people learn more about mental wellbeing.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said:“The British Youth Council are delighted to learn that the Government will be introducing mandatory health education on top of it’s existing commitment to introduce mandatory relationships and sex education.
“Mental health and wellbeing continue to be a priority for young people in the UK, and it’s great to the Government taking steps to address the issue within the curriculum. However, the changes come following years of campaigning from young people who have made it clear school need to prepare young people for life post-education”
Government officials alongside leading figures from the world of business, education and policy are among those giving evidence to the Youth Select Committee on 6 and 13 July as part of an inquiry into barriers to work experience.
The inquiry comes at a time when more than half a million young people are unemployed, and with a recent YouGov poll highlighting that 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds cite a lack of work experience as a barrier to future employment.
Parliament’s annual Youth Select Committee gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them. Following a call for written evidence, the 2018 Youth Select Committee will be hearing from a range of witnesses on 6 and 13 July inside one of the House of Commons Committee Rooms, usually used by MPs.
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.
Claudia Quinn, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee will investigate the barriers young people face when accessing work experience. Work experience has become a growing concern for young people seeking to enter the workplace. We are looking forward to ensuring we hear a variety of voices on this issue so we can make strong recommendations to the Government.”
Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “The Youth Select Committee have an extraordinary ability to tackle the biggest issues affecting young people head on. Finding good quality work experience is a real challenge for a lot of youngsters across the country, so it is promising to see the issue being investigated by this year’s committee. I look forward to personally meeting the young members and following their enquiry.”
The first evidence session, which will take place during National Democracy Week on Friday 6th July 2018, will be open to the public and broadcast live on Parliament TV. Members of the public are also invited to join the second session on Friday 13th July 2018.
Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee will produce a report and recommendations based on its findings, which will be sent to the Government for a response.
The evidence sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Entry is via Portcullis House and it is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks.
The Youth Select Committee formally announces a new inquiry into barriers to work experience. The Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses, including businesses and charities, as well as young people who have been directly affected by these barriers.
The announcement comes shortly after a YouGov poll reveals 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.
Research from the House of Commons library has given even greater cause for concern, as recent data shows over half a million young people are unemployed – excluding those in full-time education.
Now in its seventh year, the Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, representatives from each of the devolved nations. Access to work experience was voted one of the top issues affecting young people in last year’s Make Your Mark ballot – the largest annual consultation of young people in the UK.
This year, the committee will look at issues including:
- What does good quality work experience look like? What do young people and businesses expect to get from it?
- How important is good quality work experience to successful industrial strategy?
- What evidence is there that work experience boosts social mobility?
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee will investigate the barriers young people face when accessing work experience. Work experience has become a growing concern for young people seeking to enter the workplace. We’re looking forward to ensuring we hear a variety of voices on this issue so we can make strong recommendations to the Government.”
Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “I have always admired the ability of the Youth Select Committee to identify and raise awareness about the issues affecting young people across the country. This year’s Youth Select Committee is no different, launching an inquiry into the very real problem of barriers to work experience. I look forward to reading their report.”
The Youth Select Committee call for evidence closes on Monday 18th June 2018 and the Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in July.
Last year the Youth Select Committee conducted an inquiry focusing on body image. The 2017 Committee concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. Earlier this year the Government published it’s official response to the Youth Select Committee stating ‘body dissatisfaction’ was an issue of enormous concern to young people.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition have joined forces with the FairVote Campaign to support the renewed attempt to introduce a lowering vote age. The latest attempt to introduce voting for 16 and 17 year olds has been spearheaded by Peter Kyle MP who is championing the Representation of the People Bill.
The bill, which has been sponsored by Nicky Morgan MP, Caroline Lucus MP and Norman Lamb MP, is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 11th May 2018. For the first time since 2010, it is thought the Government may no longer have a majority on the issue with Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum speaking out in support of a lower voting age.
Last week the British Youth Council and Votes at Coalition questioned why thousands of 16 and 17 year olds were denied a vote in the elections that took place in England. In Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds have been allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016. The Welsh Government have also announced their intention to introduce a lower voting age in Welsh local election.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Young people have been speaking out in favour of a lower voting age for 19 years. There are no credible arguments against lowering the age now that we allow 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in some elections.
“I hope Members of Parliament will see that 16 and 17 year olds can no longer be denied a vote.”
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are calling on the UK Government to make immediate changes to the legislation preventing 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to vote in elections. The call comes ahead of the local elections which are taking place in England on Thursday 3rd May 2018.
Thousands of 16 and 17 year olds are being denied a vote in the elections taking place in England. Several elections are being held in England, with elections to all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district and borough councils and 17 unitary authorities. Young people will also miss out on the mayoral elections taking place Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and the combined authority mayoral elections in the Sheffield City Region.
Young people aged 16 and 17 will be denied a vote despite the fact young people in Scotland have been able to take part in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It seems unjust to prevent 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in the local elections when their peers in Scotland have had the chance to take part in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016.
“This year we’ve been marking 100 years since the first women were allowed to vote. We call on the Government to lead the way on democratic engagement by lowering the voting age and allowing the first 16 year olds the chance to vote. It is time for the Government to listen to the voices of young people.”
The British Youth Council have been campaigning for a lower voting age for the last 19 years. Support within Parliament has increased in recent years, with Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum indicating their support both in public and private.
Recent analysis by political commentators suggests the Government may no longer have a majority within the House of Commons. Members of Parliament are due to debate the issue on Friday 11th May 2018 on the green benches of the Commons.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has received an official response from the Government about their report on body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Government have stated body dissatisfaction is an issue of enormous concern to young people and their parents.
The comprehensive response from the Government Equalities Office comes following the committee’s inquiry, which concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. In the response, the Government acknowledges the gaps which remain in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction, including the specific challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ community, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities or serious illnesses.
The response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to further understand body image in specific groups as part of their broader endeavour to better understand the causes and impact of body dissatisfaction.
In November, the committee made it clear the Government needed to ensure young people, parents, and teachers knew where to go for support on body image. The Government has since pledged to undertake an audit of available resources.
Thomas Copeland, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s response to the committee’s report ‘A Body Confident Future’.
“We are pleased to see the Government have not only recognised the importance of body image but have also acknowledged gaps in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction.
“The Government have made a number of commitments in their response, including a commitment to further understand how body dissatisfaction affects different groups. We look forward to seeing how the Government goes on to ensure their commitments are implemented as soon as possible. Young people’s mental health and well-being must be taken seriously if we are to mitigate the detrimental effects of body dissatisfaction.”
The conclusions of the report has since influenced the launch of a separate inquiry by the Science and Technology Select Committee into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. In response to the recommendations of the committee, NHS England has also been working with the NHS Youth Forum to raise awareness of body image through a new poster campaign.
Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead for NHS England said “NHS England is delighted to have worked with the NHS Youth Forum to ensure a poster is developed to raise awareness about body image that can be displayed in a range of different settings as recommended by the Youth Select Committee inquiry.
“Young people themselves know what matters most to them and their peers, vitally they know how to capture the attention of other young people, they have led the way, demonstrating ongoing collaboration to keep improving experiences of care.”
The Youth Select Committee, who were aged 13-18, included Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. This year’s committee will investigate the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience.