Politicians from across the political spectrum will today (16th March) face difficult questions from young people working with the National Children's Bureau (NCB), who will demand a say in the political process.
To launch a new infographic, NCB and Ipsos MORI are hosting a joint event in the House of Lords - 'Generation Next: Tomorrow's Voters'. The panel, including Chloe Smith MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Lord Storey and Baroness Tyler of Enfield, will discuss and revisit the findings from a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI in 2014 - the first ever to define 'Generation Next'.
The infographic shows that while children and young people are demanding a say in issues they care about, they also show low levels of engagement with party politics. Only 13% of 11-16 year olds say they would cast their ballot at a general election if they were given the vote. This compares to 28% of 18-24 year-olds who said they would vote in other Ipsos MORI research: a contrast to the nearly 60% of middle aged people who would vote.[i]
The survey of 'Generation Next' - 11 to 16 year old children and young people born around the millennium who, after the election, will be the next generation of voters - emphasises they are still affected by the Government's decisions and want their views taken into consideration.
The infographic also shows that despite their disengagement with party politics, young people are engaged in society in other ways. Over half of 10-20 years olds volunteer their time to help others or improve the environment.[ii]
Generation Next's priorities for the national Government are strikingly similar to their parents' and grandparents': health services and education. But in their local areas they are far more concerned than adults with levels of crime and anti-social behaviour (35% of 11-16 year olds, compared to just 18% of all adults). Similarly, 35% were worried about the cleanliness of their local streets, compared to 25% of all adults. Another key area of concern is affordable housing (34% of 11-16 years olds compared to 19% of all adults).
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children's Bureau, said:
'As we approach the General Election, many of the next generation of voters seem to have switched off from party politics. That is not to say they don't feel passionately about the issues that affect them: we know they care about crime and antisocial behaviour in their neighbourhoods, and the difficulty of finding a reasonably priced places to live.
'We hope that politicians will sit up and pay attention to children and young people's views, so that in coming years young people become fully engaged voters rather than feeling alienated from a process that should serve and represent their interests.'
Gideon Skinner, from Ipsos MORI, said:
'This infographic highlights a next adult generation that is disconnected from political parties. However, what this generation does have is a strong sense of personal responsibility and interest in social issues. If party politics is to chime with future voters, the challenge for political leaders over the next few years will be engage young people in a different way.'
Thivya Jeyashanker (19), an NCB trustee, said:
'Young people want to have their views reflected in policies and I would like to believe that politicians want to hear what we have to say. Telling us to vote Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat, makes no sense to most of us who don't keep in tune with party politics. However telling us that you are going to invest in youth services, or keep our streets safe or how you are going to increase job prospects are more likely to get our attention.'
Page Nyame-Satterthwaite (19), a youth representative on NCB's board, said:
'This research shows a widening gap between young people and those in power. It should not be this way. Young people feel strongly on the issues that affect their lives and have a right to be heard. I hope the political parties focus on their efforts to engage with all age groups, especially through the appropriate communication of policies. The active engagement of young people is essential to a functioning democracy. Engagement with young people today enables them to become responsible voters in the future'.
For more information please contact the National Children's Bureau's media office on 0207 843 6045 / 47 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For urgent enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.