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There is a revolution awaiting warriors I recognise many righteous soldiers I will fight with you or alone Like the king I am reclaim my throne Me nah wait for your recognition Me jus fire upon you with verbal ammunition Me, One, I speak or myself And nobody else Every one of you has a voice To speak or not, it is your choice But silence is not golden Silence is the truth stolen And stealing of the truth Is exactly what dem do to the youts Miseducation relative deprivation Mislead young minds’ motivation Dealers, hustlers living bullet time Their lives could end in the space of a rhyme They get all the attention While the good them get no mention Young boys growing up with no direction No protection on his erection Sowing his seeds But not fulfilling their needs Young girls left to raise children alone No job and kicked out of home On the benefit system Where you fill in forms and no one listens Please listen up when I speak How many homeless you seen this week? Begging for change I said begging for change

Introduction 2 The Youth Vote 2 My Manifesto 2 Partners 2 Policy Recommendations 3 Education 5 Health 9 Jobs 12 Transport 15 Housing 17 Police and Crime 19 Quotes from Party Leaders 21 Collaborators 24



My Manifesto

Bite the Ballot aims to encourage young people to make informed decisions at the ballot box. We want inspire young people to take ownership of their individual and collective futures and become the generation that champions change in politics. We aspire to reverse the pattern of poor electoral turnout, and in giving young people a voice, we hope to make their votes and opinions count in the political arena.

My Manifesto is not a representative sample of the youth vote in the UK. Our resources were limited, and as such many hurdles were met along the way – however, over 5000 young people, most of whom were not previously interested or engaging in politics at all, have helped shape this booklet through surveys, focus groups and our Rock Enrol national tour. It is built with their life experiences, our experiences in the sector, and the experience of our collaborators, in mind.

The Youth Vote The general consensus seems to be that the youth of today are politically apathetic. After all, even though there was a 7% increase in the numbers of 18-24 year olds voting in the 2010 general election (44%), that’s still less than the overall turnout of 65% and is still only half of all eligible young people. Some would say that’s proof enough that young people just don’t care. But if we look deeper into the heart of the matter, you find studies † which show that young people are considerably more motivated by issues rather than party allegiances. In one particular study 67% said they were interested in national issues but only 38% said they were interested in ‘politics’. That is why this booklet aims to address issues.

We hope more than anything that this is food for thought, and can inspire everyone to see the true value of the youth vote.

Partners Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust seeks to correct the imbalance of power by strengthening the hand of individuals, groups and organisations who strive for reform. The Trust aims to foster political developments central to a healthy democratic process, be it reform, civil liberties or social justice. Hansard Society The Hansard Society is the UK’s leading independent, non-partisan political research charity. They aim to strengthen democracy and encourage greater public involvement in politics. At the heart of their work is the principle that civic society is most effective when its citizens are connected with the institutions and individuals who represent them in the democratic process.

† Citizenship Commission, HeadsUp; Re-engaging Young People In Voting, IDeA


policy recomm 3

mendations Education Health Jobs Transport Housing Police and Crime


education Over 96% of young people considered education the most important policy area. From the survey, focus groups and national tour however, it is clear that the national curriculum is not preparing our young people for life after school.

Policy Recommendations: 1 We recommend giving every young person key life skills vital for their futures by providing:

“It suits whoever is in power, for us not to have it [political education]”

Political education

The two key principles to political education are to establish why politics is important and how it affects the individual. Estimated 2010 general election turnout by age and gender












66% 69% 73% 76% 55% 44% How Britain Voted in 2010, Ipsos MORI

Why? The key to every democratic society is the support, development and inclusion of socially aware young people. This encourages personal and social responsibility and goes a long way to reducing the “doesn’t affect me” mindset.


“Teach us about politics- give us real everyday examples, tell us that it affects our everyday lives, where we go, what we do, how we can get involved”

How can this feature within schools: Covered in form time, Citizenship, PSHE, External facilitation

Financial education Every day in the UK:


Brits are declared insolvent/bankrupt


County Court Judgments are issued


new debt cases come to The Citizens Advice Bureaus


homes are repossessed

Office of National Statistics

Equip young people with the skills to make informed decisions when it comes to their finances and credit rating, emphasizing risks, rewards and responsibilities. Why? To reduce the number of young people in financial difficulty and improve the finances of future generations. This is done by providing basic practical knowledge of finances, with an emphasis on how to take responsibility for your own financial future.

How can this feature within schools: Integrate real life examples into the national curriculum, teaching about loans, mortgages and repayments in maths and practical money management in PSHE

Employability The financial cost to the UK in 2012 is expected to be around

£4.2 billion

as the number of 18-24 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training and claiming benefits, cost the exchequer an average

Prepare young people for the world of work by providing skills, advice and experience. Why? Skills Every prospective employee should possess certain essential skills to enter the workforce such as: • Time management • Critical thinking • Basic communication • Computer literacy Careers Advice & Experience Help young people plan realistic career paths by providing:

• T  ailored information on apprenticeships, university, further education and vocational courses • Information on available career paths • Industry professionals supplying careers advice first hand • Peer to peer networks: allow those that have left school a few years ago to come back and relay their experiences


per annum according to ACEVO

How can this feature within schools: Covered in form time (supporting young peoples personal developments) Citizenship, PSHE, Careers, External facilitation, Drop down days


education Policy Recommendations: 2

We recommend raising awareness, encouraging responsibility and promoting the wellbeing of young people in society through the enhancement of these areas:

Health Many young people fall victim to stigmatisation and poor health and may become dependent on the state due to a lack of education on: How can this feature within schools: Covered in form time (supporting young peoples personal developments) Citizenship, PSHE, Careers, External facilitation, Drop down days

Sexual Health and Parenthood Mental Health Physical Health and Disabilities

Culture To promote a stronger sense of local community by exploring and celebrating diversity and challenging misconceptions between cultures. Begin to have the conversations that are often avoided by teachers for being too controversial. Facilitate key topics such as racism, gang culture and abuse.


“Schools need to start building relationships with companies and create stepping-stones for their Students�

“If we talk about things more in school in an open and engaging way it will reduce the fear of the unknown and the stigmas related to those fears”

Environment Young people want to learn about and understand how to influence the changes taking place in our environment.

How can this feature within schools: Covered in form time (supporting young peoples personal developments) Citizenship, PSHE, Careers, External facilitation, Drop down days

“Teach people how to think critically and how to challenge what they hear and see”

Do you think it’s more important to set government policies that... 80% 60% 40% 20% guarantee citizens an equal 0% opportunity

guarantee all citizens an equal outcome

My Manifesto, 2012

54.3% 58.5% 59.5% said they would place greater emphasis on life skills

would like to reduce the tuition fee cap well below £9,000

said they want EMA restored



Young people highlighted health as a major concern. Better understanding through education and improved services, including a stronger commitment to healthy eating topped the list as the most crucial areas to help encourage a healthier population.

Policy Recommendations: 1 We recommend engaging young people in health campaigns, services and education initiatives by:

involving them in the design, development and evaluation of youth-friendly health services and initiatives, locally and nationally.

using celebrities and social media in national paediatric health campaigns.

More support to tackle alcohol and drug abuse


Don’t know


No age 







Not Important





It is estimated that 40.7% of 16-24 year olds have used one or more illicit drugs in their lifetime and 11.6% in the last month.

22-25 My Manifesto, 2012; British Crime Survey, London: Home Office

Policy Recommendations: 2 We recommend guaranteeing ‘food equality’ for all school students by

extending current rules that ban unhealthy food and drink in stateoperated primary and secondary schools.

granting local authorities the power to prohibit the number of fast food businesses operating and opening near schools and on local high streets, especially in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.

34% 86%

of academy schools are selling at least one of the food products, which were banned when they were state-run.

The Dispatches School Dinner Survey, Channel 4 Dispatches, June 2012

of young people think healthy eating is an important issue. My Manifesto, 2012

incentivising food retailers near schools to sell healthy meals, snacks and drinks

“I passionately believe that this is taking a huge step in the wrong direction as far as taking care of our children and the future of this country is concerned” Jamie Oliver



Policy Recommendations: 3

We recommend improving the content and delivery of health-related subjects in every school by:

making personal, social, health and economic education (PSHEE) a compulsory and central part of the national curriculum, with special focus on drugs and alcohol, sex and relationships and mental health issues.

1in10 11

conducting a nationwide inspection of how food technology is taught, with particular focus on how schools can promote the benefits of healthy eating.


of young people believe that better health counselling services are an important part of the future of health

children between the ages of 1 and 15 has a mental health disorder. The Office of National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005

With so many young people unemployed or disillusioned with the current jobs market, it’s no wonder that jobs was the third most important policy area for young people, especially those aged 18 and above. Below are our recommendations for the future of employment.


Policy Recommendations: 1 We recommend parties to encourage professional traineeships with industry leaders:

For professional traineeships to be offered by leading firms in media, law, management consultancy and the think tank sector. Especially for school leavers that want practical experience instead od degrees. E.g. journalism traineeships at the BBC.

Policy Recommendations: 2 We recommend the introduction of Gap year grants: Post 18 ‘gap year grants’ for young people to fund the transition years between school and work to supplement the income of low paid and unpaid internships, to be used to fund labour costs in creating a startup or pay for volunteering programs overseas.


of 18-24 year olds have worked for free

Who should have primary responsibility for funding more apprenticeships? Business/employers should fund them - 55.0% The government (tax-payers) should fund them - 20.7% The apprentice should make a contribution to their own training - 11.2% We don’t need more apprenticeship schemes - 2.5% Don’t know - 10.7%

My Manifesto, 2012

while the same can be said for only


of their parents’ generation. The NUS 12


Policy Recommendations: 3 We recommend investment in welfare: The challenges of a globalised labour market require a stronger welfare state not a weaker one. Especially not a weaker one in the eyes of the most affected. Young people with low paid jobs consider housing benefit absolutely essential to their everyday lives.


more working people, (an 86% increase since 2009) are now reliant on housing benefit to help them pay the rising rents on their home.

Department for Work and Pensions, August 2012


of young people would like more opportunities for work experience when at school. My Manifesto, 2012


Policy Recommendations: 4 We recommend equality in employment audits for underrepresented groups: Equality audits for medium and large employers to ensure that private and public companies are promoting underrepresented and discriminated groups; those who are disproportionately unemployed. Firms employing 20 or more people, who who fail to meet local quotas set by inequality coefficients must trigger action - especially if they receive public money or are publicly traded e.g. think tanks, The BBC, councils and FTSE 100 companies.

“The number of black and ethnic minority workers making it to the highest levels of management - the boardroom - is very small and in some cases too small to analyse”

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Race to the Top Report

Lar organiz ger atio public s ns and erv should ices l by exam ead p being div le by er all lev se at el manage s of ment. Three in five

The research, based on interviews with 2,000 16-30 year olds, also shows how more than a third of unemployed young people claim they have not received any responses to job applications in the past year.


Princes Trust

61% describe looking for work as “demoralising”

Princes Trust 14

transport With 86% of young people stating that transport was an important policy area to them and their futures, we delved deeper to uncover which issues were at the heart of their concerns.

Policy Recommendations: 1 We recommend a flat discounted rate regardless of peak fares

Current discounts only apply to students on off-peak fares. However the rise in fares means that off-peak prices are hugely daunting to young people newly out of education, those looking for a job or those on low incomes.


of young people said discounts for bus and train travel were a priority

My Manifesto, 2012

“If it becomes cheaper for me to get anywhere by public transport – I’ll do it” 15

“They give us a free bus pass around Stockport but I can’t use it before half 9. So I need all [ job] interviews to be in the afternoon”

“If they want a mobile work force they need to have real subsidies to help young people get to and from work because when you factor in the cost of transport it works out most people are working for less than minimum wage”

Policy Recommendations: 2 We recommend increased routes and services especially in rural areas


There is a genuine need for a greater number of bus and train services especially in rural locations. Young people often feel isolated in these areas.

of young people want more bus routes across the UK

Policy Recommendations: 3 We recommend greener services across the UK Incentivise more local transport routes to invest in greener alternatives: • Cycling training and safety for young people • Energy efficient buses

50.9% More than one in five students have considered dropping out of further education because of financial difficulties. Transport costs are the biggest expenditure associated with participation in post–16 education.

Nearly half of 16–18 year old students say they find their transport costs hard to meet.

have requested more cycle routes My Manifesto, 2012


of students have missed college at some point in the previous year because they could not afford transport costs.

Campaign for better transport, Youth Select committee inquiry 16


Our research has shown that young people are seriously concerned about the current state of housing. Many rely on support to meet the costs of rent, and many are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. We want to reverse this trend and champion the voices of those who’re often most affected, but least consulted, when it comes to the problems of unaffordable private sector rent, social housing and homelessness.

Policy Recommendations: 1 We recommend tackling unaffordable private sector rent by: There are 8.5 million renters in England (including 1 in 4 Londoners) and in the capital renters pay on average between

• aligning rent with average earnings • capping the amount that private landlords can charge young people earning the minimum wage • making more homes available by putting empty properties to better use • cracking down on ‘slum’ and ‘rogue’ landlords


of their wage in rent £ £

the cost of privately renting a home has risen by

37% 82% since 2007

of young people who took the My Manifesto survey consider affordable rent levels as a matter of importance.

My Manifesto, 2012



Rentonomy, 2012

Policy Recommendations: 2 We recommend protecting young people in social housing by: Setting low rents for those receiving housing benefit while earning the minimum wage ensure that any re-assessment of young people receiving housing benefit is based on need, not age.

Policy Recommendations: 3 We recommend extending emergency accommodation schemes by:


417,830 more working people, (an 86% increase since 2009) are now reliant on housing benefit to help them pay the rising rents on their home. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012

Funding emergency short-term accommodation for young homeless people in all Local Authorities.

Homelessness has risen by

over the last two years


statis t figur ics es fro m

Home Truths 2012, The National Housing Federation

• There are 8.5 million renters in England and about half are under 35 • Rents have risen twice as fast as average wages over the last ten years • In London, a family needs to earn £51,900 per year to affordably rent a two bedroom home • Shelter sees an 80% increase in the demand for homelessness advice 18

police & crime “Develop trust and work closer to underrepresented communities as well as young people”

Policy Recommendations: 1

Between September and November 2012, the SHM Foundation Political Academy ran a campaign called ‘Force Forward’ to get 16-25 year olds to have their say about crime and policing in the lead-up to the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. We combined their findings with our research to recommended the following.

We recommend strengthening police presence in areas where it is most needed:

The lack of police visibility in the most troubled areas makes young people feel more vulnerable.

Policy Recommendations: 2 We recommend tackling serious drug crime:






Young people are particularly concerned about the dealers and producers of drugs in their areas, and they see this as the ultimate root of much of the crime that exists in their communities.


What is the best way to tackle knife crime? Knife Amnesty More security & searches in schools Harsher punishments or sentences More use of police stop and search Other 19

My Manifesto, 2012

Policy Recommendations: 3 We recommend strengthening the relationship between the police and the community: This relationship is often regarded as broken and there is a lack of trust and understanding between the police and young people in particular. Many young people who live in postcodes or estates with high crime feel particularly targeted, as do those from ethnic minority groups. This experience of being stopped, questioned and moved along on a regular basis has a very negative impact on trust and the relationship with the police.


How do you feel the Media represents young people?

40% 30% 20% 10% 0

’t on D now k

er ev N irly fa

ly re Ra irly fa es im et m So irly fa

n fte O irly fa

s ay w Al irly fa

Help young l people fee le to comfortab de ‘co break the of silence’

“Invest some time to work with younger people and by doing so you’re potentially reducing crime before it even happens!”

My Manifesto, 2012

75% 72% 50% 43%

think that more riots are likely if the relationship with the police and young people doesn’t change think the police often or always act differently towards people depending on their appearance or background think the relationship with the police is broken to a large extent or completely feel that the police never or rarely treat young people fairly 20

what the parties said: David Cameron, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party “I am delighted to offer my support for the excellent Bite the Ballot campaign. It is essential that young people feel empowered to vote, to debate the issues that concern them, to listen to the views of their peers, and to in turn have their views listened to. I always find it deeply concerning when young people tell me that they do not vote, that they do not feel that politicians understand them and the challenges that they face, or that they think that voting is simply not for them. I sincerely hope that the Bite the Ballot campaign continues to be a great success in reaching out to those young people across the United Kingdom who had previously not considered, or not wanted to exercise their fundamental democratic right to vote.”


Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party

Win the Youth Vote in 2015

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats “Politicians of all parties know “The fact of the matter is that a that we need to do more to lot of young people across the get young people involved in country do not vote because they can’t see enough proposed politics, so I’m a huge supporter of Bite the Ballot’s work. From for them in politics or party balancing our books to tackling manifestos, and subsequently, Climate Change the UK faces feel disengaged and alienated huge challenges in the coming from the political processes. years. And it is important that In the current situation, where young people make sure their not even 50% of 18-24 yearvoices are heard in the debates olds exercise their right to vote, around how we address those Bite the Ballot’s My Manifesto challenges - the ‘My Manifesto’ is a very timely and important project is a great way to help piece of research that will make that happen.” indicate what young people across the country really care about and would like to see implemented after 2015. The Labour party is a very strong supporter of increasing youth participation in politics. I personally feel very strongly that youth vote can make a big change in the next General Elections and would be happy to look at the final outcome of this research and urge others to do the same.”

education Conservatives A Conservative government will not accept another generation consigned to an uncertain future of worklessness and dependency. Labour Education is the key to personal fulfilment, economic prosperity and social mobility. Liberal Democrats Liberal Denocrats want every child to receive an excellent education to unlock children’s potential and to ensure that they can succeed in life. DUP Not everyone’s gifts and talents will be academic so a tailored system of schools is necessary. Respect Investing in improved education at all levels lifts economic performance and will help generate prospects that all communities can benefit from. Social and Democratic Labour Party The SDLP will continue to fight for the educational and social needs of our children and young people. Alliance Alliance regards education as a key investment for society as a whole and for allowing every person to develop to their full potential.

health Conservatives We will turn the Department of Health into a Department for Public Health so that the promotion of good health and prevention of illness get the attention they need. Labour Wherever necessary, we will act to protect children’s health from tobacco, alcohol and sunbeds. Liberal Democrats Liberal Democrats believe that one important way to improve the NHS is to make care flexible, designed to suit what patients need, not what managers want. Green Party Provide free school meals for all – with locally sourced or fair-trade and (where possible) organic food, and with a vegetarian option. This will encourage healthy eating, combat obesity, improve concentration and end the stigma associated with free school meals. Scottish National Party We are acting to tackle obesity and promote physical activity. Alliance We would address the structural underfunding of mental health services, particularly with respect to children and young people.

jobs Labour No young person in Britain should be long-termed unemployed. Conservatives We will reduce youth employment... as part of our strategy for tackling poverty and inequality. Liberal Democrats Set the minimum wage equal for all people over 16. Green Party Our major and immediate priority is the creation of an extra million jobs and training places. Respect We need to get people working again. Scottish National Party We will argue for Scotland to have greater responsibility for employment policy make sure local communities benefit from skills and employment support that is fully co-ordinated. Alliance Investment in skilling the workforce can be the single most effective means for making our economy more competitive. Sinn Fein Public investment and capital build projects must be underpinned by social objectives to ensure that maximum jobs are created.

Plaid Cymru Giving our children a strong start in life is vital, not only for their future, but for the future of Wales. 22

what the parties said: transport

Labour Britain needs to invest in modern, high-capacity and low-carbon transport infrastructure. Conservatives We will support sustainable travel initiatives that work best for local communities. Liberal Democrats Britain needs a well-run, efficient transport system. Respect Revive the British rail system. More buses, with better services, and low fares in every town.


Conservatives We will make it easier for everyone to get onto the housing ladder. Labour That everyone has access to a decent home at a price they can afford is a central Labour ambition. Liberal Democrats Liberal Democrats will bring 250,000 empty homes back into use. Green Party we will legislate to change the law so that for 16 and 17 year olds the right to housing is met solely through supported housing. DUP Owning or renting a safe, secure and high standard home is such a fundamental matter for most people. Respect Respect stands for a huge programme of quality, affordable, low-energy council home building to create employment and provide everyone with the home they need. Sinn Fein Sinn FĂŠin believes that an enforceable right to housing should be enshrined in domestic law across the island.


police & crime Conservatives We will reform the police...getting then out of police stations and onto the street, fighting and preventing crime. Labour On drugs, our message is clear: we will not tolerate illegal drug use. Liberal Democrats Liberal Democrats believe in strong communities, where local people can feel free from the threat of crime. DUP In order to tackle anti-social behaviour, we need the maximum number of police officers on the streets meeting and listening to the public. Scottish National Party continue to advocate a community and multi-agency partnership approach to policing. Alliance Supporting police resourcing in a manner that allows more visible policing on the streets.



Credits: Revolution - by Dean Atta (as featured on the cover of My Manifesto) Authors Mevan Babakar Symeon Brown Rose Dowling Peter Lesniak Eugene Mensah Charlotte Parsons Michael Sani Oliver Sidorczuk Annique Simpson Designed by Simon Cohen (Simon Inc Ltd) Printed by Bishops Printers Our thanks to Everyone who took the survey Everyone who attended focus groups Everyone who has registered to vote The Rock Enrol team The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust The Hansard Society Rock the Vote The Peer Outreach Workers Cathrine Lyn-Scott and Lianna Yianni from London Flair PR Laura-Jane Rawlings from Youth Employment UK Kelly Loftus from The Princess Trust Peter Jefferys from Shelter Declan Wilkes from MyBnk Philippa de Lacy from pfeg Jemma Rivet from Slenky Michael Skelly Peter Cobrin Dominique Moore, Sam Pepper & Jamal Edwards Gareth Gatrell Scruffy Bear Pictures Red Scar

Bite the Ballot CIC 6 Chancel Street Southwark SE1 0UU

this is just the beginning

WHAT next?

What are your thoughts on what you have seen and read here? Would these policies shape the way you vote? Tell us, tell each other, and let’s start sharing our views and opinions and start making these changes a reality. @bitetheballot Sign up for the newsletter at to stay up to date on the fight to have something to vote for in 2015. Make sure you and your friends visit your MP and let them know the things you care about. Make sure you make an informed decision in 2015. Vote for the things you care about, vote for the person who upholds those views. And if no one does, then make sure you go to the polling station and abstain. Power comes in numbers and we all have a role to play in the future of our lives and the lives of others.

Are you registered to vote?

Policy writers will create policies to win votes and if you want to be considered you have to be registered. Join the 3,167 young people who have registered in 2012 as a result of Bite the Ballot, over 3,000 of whom didn’t know what the register was or the benefits of being on it. Find out more at

Don’t just be a sympathiser See through the mist, be a realiser See what has been done To brother, sister, daughter, son The revolution a go come The revolution begins with one But one is much stronger If he listens to those who’ve lived longer Listen to the wisdom of the elders Dem want fi tell you if you want to know When’s the last time you saw your grandma or grandfather It’s time to go With an open mind and loving soul As a community, as a whole There’s so much to be told You think dem lost it cos dem got old No, dem just stopped sharing Cos you done stopped caring If you are now prepared to hear Revolution may begin this year Go forth with what you have been told Tell young girl she’s worth more than gold Tell young boy what a man’s about The truth nah whisper, the truth does shout We are the revolution We are the solution We hold the key And it begins with you and me We are the revolution We are the solution We hold the key And it begins with unity.

Bite The Ballot Manifesto  

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