Our Young People Must be Listened to!
Since being elected on May 8th this year, it has never been clearer to me how much young people need to have their voices heard in politics.
During my maiden speech on June 8th I talked about the ballot for my Private Member’s Bill. My Bill will be looking to introduce votes for 16 and 17 year olds. It will be debated in Parliament on September 11th and I would love to see the Public Gallery full of local young people.
Young people have the voice and passion to create positive change and it has never been clearer to me that politicians must allow them the right to vote. The upcoming EU referendum in 2017 will have a profound effect on the future of our young people and they need to have a say in that future.
The Conservatives’ Emergency Budget was a disaster for young people. Under 25s won’t receive the new minimum wage of £7.15 an hour that everyone else will get. The Chancellor said he wanted to “make work pay”, but his announcements in the budget exclude young people from any rise in their pay packets. Furthermore if you go to university and are from a poorer background you will no longer be able to apply for a grant but will have to apply for a new loans system.
We are seeing a 25% cut in further education, impacting life opportunities for many young people. Council funding has been slashed by £11.3 billion across the UK with local councils having no choice but to close our youth services.
The relentless attacks on young people don’t end there though. Cutting Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds will mean that organisations such as the Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust, which helps vulnerable young women in my constituency, will struggle to survive. These changes could impact on the life chances of many of the most vulnerable young women who are being supported into training, work and independent living.
I was proud to be part of a party who made massive steps towards helping young people get the leg up they needed to succeed in housing, education and employability, regardless of social class or background. I still want that to be the future.
The way we improve our community is to invest in our young people and give them they voice they deserve. As your new MP for Lewisham Deptford, this will be one of my many priorities.
Published on 31st July 2015- South London Press