Labour announced a string of student-friendly policies in their election manifesto, including lowering the voting age to 16 and bringing tuition fees down to £6,000.
Lowering the voting age could mean that 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in the 2016 London Mayoral election, provided constitutional reform happens quickly enough.
In addition to the pledge on tuition fees, the party will introduce a new vocational route to higher education, dubbed ‘technical degrees’, for students choosing not to go down a traditional academic path. This would consist of a technical baccalaureate or enhanced apprenticeships delivered in partnership with businesses and universities.
They also promised to bring in a rise in minimum wage to £8 by October 2019 and tax rebates for firms that pay the higher Living Wage. The party said they will guarantee a job for those out of work for a year, which they will need to take up, or risk losing their benefits. For young people lacking A-levels, jobseeker’s allowance will be replaced by a ‘youth allowance’, aimed at incentivising them to train and get extra qualifications.
Other policies benefitting young people include a guaranteed apprenticeship for everyone that wants one (subject to achieving certain grades), with large firms required to provide places if they bid for government work. In addition, teenagers will be guaranteed individual face-to-face careers advice and the party have vowed to tackle the growth of unpaid internships.
The manifesto also sets out a plan for “Generation Rent”, with a commitment to doubling the number of new houses built per year to 200,000 by 2020, with “first priority for local first time buyers” rather than landlords or investors. They will also ban letting agencies from charging fees to tenants.
Labour are no doubt hoping to capitalise on their strong support among student voters by bringing in policies aimed at young people. The most recent student opinion poll put Labour’s share of the student vote at 33%. However the party have lost a considerable proportion of student voters to the Greens in the past few months, with the latter on around 28%.