fbpx General Election 2024: our review of the party manifestos - London Youth

17 June 2024

The Liberal Democrats fired off the first of the competing party manifesto salvos last week. The Green and Conservative manifesto pitches followed, and on Thursday the Labour Party manifesto took centre stage. As we are now just over halfway through the election campaign several of the parties’ key policies had been widely trailed.

As London Youth, we will continue to demand a fully funded youth sector, with due recognition and reward for the youth sector workforce. We will not cease to advocate for the rights of young people to be seen and heard in all policy decisions which affect their future

With that in mind, we review below some of the key commitments made by the lead parties as they relate to the youth sector and young people.


Conservative manifesto

The expansion of mental health support and early support hubs for 11–25-year-olds in every local community is a welcome measure. This should sit within a comprehensive mental health support framework for young people, who should not be penalised for poor mental health in proposed welfare reforms. The headline mandatory national service proposal for all school leavers at 18 is, in our view, a misguided one. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund underpinning this commitment should instead be used to build back depleted grassroots youth infrastructure in the places and spaces where young people choose to go.

Other key commitments are to:

  • Fund 100,000 high-quality apprenticeships for young people, paid for by curbing the number of poor-quality university degrees that leave young people worse off.
  • Protect children by requiring schools to ban the use of mobile phones during the school day and ensuring parents can see what their children are being taught, especially on sensitive matters like sex education.
  • End the unfairness in Child Benefit by moving to a household system, so families don’t start losing Child Benefit until their combined income reaches £120,000.
  • Ban vaping and continue to tackle childhood and adult obesity, legislating to restrict the advertising of products high in fat, salt, and sugar.

Read the Conservative manifesto


Labour manifesto

We welcome the emphasis of education and skills in this manifesto, with increased funding for children and young people. It is heartening to see the recognition of youth workers as integral to the proposed Youth Futures hub workforce in every community and in other settings: our hope is to see them rewarded as well as recognised. We also welcome the right for 16–17-year-olds to vote alongside the new youth guarantee pathways for all 19–21-year-olds. As mental health is a key barrier to youth employment, access to the new drop-in mental health hubs will undoubtedly contribute to this goal.

Other key commitments are to:

  • Provide two weeks work experience for every young person and improve career advice in all schools and colleges.
  • Halve knife crime in a decade with a range of accompanying measures.
  • Reform and modernise the education system by investing in 6,500 new expert teachers and expanding vocational education.
  • Create higher-quality training and employment paths “by empowering local communities to develop the skills people need”.
  • Further tackle the criminal exploitation of children and ensure that schools address misogyny and teach young people about healthy relationships and consent.

Read the Labour manifesto


Lib Dem manifesto

The Liberal Democrats have made strong pledges to invest in the mental health of young people up to the age of 25, and in youth services which support them. We welcome their commitment to engage youth workers alongside other professionals supporting young people at risk of violence. Appointing a Cabinet Minister for Children and Youth People aligns with our asks as the wider youth sector, alongside the right to vote for 16 and 17-year-olds.  

Other key commitments are to:

  • Extend free school meals to all children in poverty “with an ambition to extend them to all primary school children when the public finances allow” alongside the removal of the two-child benefit cap.
  • Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law.
  • Fix the skills and recruitment crisis featured more apprenticeships, better career advice and a broad creative/ arts school curriculum and extracurricular offer. The latter would be free for disadvantaged children who would also receive extra tutoring in their early years.
  • Promoting opportunities for young people to study, teach and volunteer abroad by returning to the Erasmus Plus programme as an associated country.
  • Extend half-fares on buses, trams and trains to 18-year-olds and introduce a ‘Young Person’s Buscard’ giving 19- to 25-year-olds a third off bus and tram fares.

Read the Lib Dem manifesto


Green Party manifesto

We welcome the Green’s commitment to seek restoration of the funding withdrawn from youth services since 2010 and recognising the valuable contribution of the youth sector workforce in all spaces. Their proposed abolition of the two-chid benefit cap and a daily free school meal for children would, we agree, significantly erode child poverty in our capital and across the country.

Other key commitments are to:

  • Review assessment targets in schools so that arts and vocational subjects are treated equally within the curriculum, children are supported to play and learn outdoors, and every child can learn about the climate and biodiversity crisis to equip them for the challenges ahead.
  • Give children and students at all state-funded schools and colleges access to a qualified counsellor and address the needs of LGBTQ+ young people and all those with protected characteristics.
  • Ensure children and young people are never strip searched without an appropriate adult present, and only in very exceptional circumstances.

Read the Green Party manifesto


Over the next days and weeks, we will be bringing the voices of youth practitioners and young people to the forefront of our election campaigning. We will be spotlighting their lived experience and demands of the future Government on our social media channels. Follow us on X | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn to find out more.

To get involved in our policy work, please reach out to clare.macnamara@londonyouth.org

Read our article: Young people deserve a joined-up approach from the next Government

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