Ahead of the election on Thursday, Ross Baxter provides a comprehensive and impartial guide for young people who still don’t know what each party can offer them.
In a couple of days, the campaigning will be over, and people will have cast their votes for the future of our country for the next five years. Millions of people across the country are still undecided on which way they will vote, and even you, dear reader, may well be thinking, “With all these promises being thrown around, how can I know which party best represents me?!” Well you’ve come to the right place, because right here, you’ll find a sample of the policies that each party has offered which affect young people.*
The Conservatives have promised to create 3 million apprenticeships and would not put a cap on university places. They have also said that they would spend £18 billion on new schools (on buildings and facilities). 500 more free schools have been promised under a Tory Government.
Tuition fees would likely remain at the level they are now, and would almost certainly not drop under the next government.
The Tories have promised to help first-time house buyers, and would do this through an extension of the right-to-buy scheme. They have also announced plans to build 200,000 starter homes that are 20% below the market rate for first-time buyers under 40.
Labour has promised that tuition fees will be cut by a third to £6,000, and have given a guarantee of a job for every 18 to 24 year old who has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year. The voting age would be lowered to include 16- and 17-year-olds.
The minimum wage would be increased to £8 an hour by 2020, and a tax rebate offered to companies that become living wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament.
The law would be changed to make 3-year tenancies the norm, instead of shorter term ones that exist currently, and would introduce an upper ceiling on any rent increase during this time.
The Liberal Democrats have promised to double the number of businesses that are hiring apprentices, and have offered a two thirds discount bus pass for under-21s.
They support the introduction of votes for 16- and 17-year-olds. Unsurprisingly, there is no real mention in their manifesto of tuition fees, so it can be assumed that in the next government, they would look to keep this at the same level as it is now.
Promises have also been made to transform mental health services for young people, to make help more accessible to those who need it. (See our interview with Nick Clegg about his plans for mental health.)
Ukip are against giving votes to younger people, and believe the voting age should remain unchanged.
They want to see all people on the minimum wage removed from paying tax and UK students taking approved degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine will not have to repay their tuition fees.
The party also want to return to a more traditional primary education, with more of a focus on “the three ‘R’s”.
Scottish National Party
The SNP support votes for 16- and 17-year-olds, and have delivered on this in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.
They support free education for all, and have said that they would back Labour efforts to reduce tuition fees to a level of £6,000.
The party would also look to increase the minimum wage rate for under-18s by over £1.20 per hour, taking it to £5.07 per hour
Plaid Cymru are another party who want to see votes for 16- and 17-year-olds, and want all employees to be on a living wage by 2020.
They would look to implement rent controls to make tenancies more affordable, and want to increase tenants’ rights and create reasonable minimum tenancy lengths.
Plaid believes “higher education should be free for all” and says it will work towards this goal, and have said that people who live in Wales and are studying to work in fields such as science and engineering will not pay fees if they stay in Wales for their education.
The Greens have said that they would scrap all tuition fees, as well as writing off any outstanding student loan debt. There would be increased spending on youth services, and they would stop the building of free schools and academies.
They are committed to votes for 16- and 17-year-olds, and would fight for a more proportional electoral system to better represent more of society, including young people.
The minimum wage would be immediately changed to a living wage, reaching £10 an hour by 2020. 500,000 social rented homes would be built, and empty homes would be brought back into use. More support would be available for privately renting tenants.
Hopefully the above has given you some information on what each party is offering, and has shown that some want to make big changes from the way things currently are. The way to get politicians to listen is to use your voice. Vote for change you believe in. Get out and vote.
* For full details on each party’s youth policy, head over to their official websites: