Have you registered to vote?
*The content in this blog is now out of date. For info about the 2017 general election, visit: www.votingcounts.org.uk*
I’m 25 this upcoming General Election. At the last General Election I would have been 20 and eligible to vote but I didn’t. Why? I had no clue that you had to register, I had no clue what voting meant, I didn’t know how to vote, I didn’t know who to vote for, I didn’t know what the parties proposed to do over the coming years and I didn’t know if and how it would affect me.
Am I any clearer now? Yes and no. There’s still plenty more I need to learn.
Since being at Young Women’s Trust, I understand the importance of politics and what difference having your say can mean and how by combining the both of these you can make an effective change for not only your future but the next generation. Thankfully I’ve had this opportunity and learnt that you can’t just turn up to vote on the day as I previously thought, but must be registered to vote prior, I would still be unaware of this if I never came across Young Women’s Trust. Why are these crucial life lessons like first aid, voting, taxes and benefits not taught in school?
Over the past 12 months I’ve been working at Young Women’s Trust on its ‘Scarred for Life?’ Inquiry and have had first-hand experience of campaigning on the NEET (not in education, employment or training) issue that has not only affected me a lot personally but, as I discovered, so many other young females across the country. This is an issue I’ll be thinking about when I decide who to vote for in May.
Over the past three months I, alongside other young women, have attended APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) meetings at the House of Commons, attended by MPs of all political parties discussing just some of what they propose to do for young people over the next five years:
If re-elected this is what David Cameron MP and his Conservative members propose:
- The Minimum Wage (for over 21 year olds) should rise to £7 by this year
- Businesses would be encouraged to pay the Living Wage and employers will have more power to develop apprenticeship standards, whilst focusing funding on young people and SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises)
- Job Seekers Allowance for under 18-21 year olds will be replaced with a youth allowance at the same rate of pay, young people would have to engage in 30 hours work on ‘community projects’ and ten hours job search per week.
- three million new apprenticeships would be created by 2020.
- Housing benefit would be removed from most 18-21 year olds.
- Individuals would be able to claim a maximum of £23,000 per year in benefits
- All primary and secondary schools rated as “requiring improvement” or “inadequate” by Ofsted could be given new leadership and converted to academies
- Conservative Government would maintain current levels of spending on primary and secondary education until 2020.
- 200,000 cut price starter homes would be available to buy for people under 40 at a discount of 20%
If elected Ed Miliband MP and his Labour members propose:
- Young people aged 18-24 who have been out of work and claiming Job Seekers Allowance for more than a year (or longer than two years if they are over 25) should be guaranteed a work placement. The young person would be paid to do this job and they will be required to take part if they wish to continue to claim benefits.
- An increase in the number of young people who do apprenticeships.
- More power given to employers to decide what training apprentices receive and how it is delivered.
- A requirement that large companies that want to do work for the Government will have to employ apprentices
- New vocational training would be created to help young people into careers in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths.
- Young people who claim Job Seekers Allowance but do not have basic skills in English, Maths and IT would receive additional training. Not taking part in this training would mean losing the right to claim benefits.
- Extend the right to vote in elections to all people who are over the age of 16.
If elected Nick Clegg MP and his Liberal Democrat members propose:
- All 16-21 year olds would be given a Young Person’s Bus Pass. It would help young people with the cost of travel by offering a minimum two thirds discount on bus travel in England.
- Creating a fairer society by cutting income tax by an additional £400 by raising the tax-free allowance to £12,500.
- Creating a fairer society by properly funding our public services by investing in them as the economy grows. Making sure the NHS has the extra £8 billion a year it needs by 2020 and ending the stigma around mental health.
- Protecting the education budget from cradle to college and making sure there is a qualified teacher in every class.
- Fighting climate change with five Green Laws.
There are many more political parties out there, I’ve chosen to address the three largest ones as I hear about them in the media daily. Personally I don’t agree with everything one particular party proposes but I do favour one more than the other.
In 2010 I thought “well someone else must have the same thoughts as me, surely they will think that this is an issue and will vote for so and so”. Well what if they had the same thoughts I did and left it up to someone else to vote on “our” behalf? No-one knows what’s important to you other than you, we must speak up for what we believe in: if we don’t governments will assume that we agree with what they are doing on “our” behalf.
I have now registered to vote so I can I can use my vote on 7th May. I am looking forward to casting my own vote and contributing to who I believe is best to run my country.
If you wish to find out what more about what parties propose, check out
To find out how easy it is to register to vote, follow these steps:
Step One: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Step Two: All you need is your name, address and National Insurance number. There are 11 questions and it takes 5-10 minutes to complete
Step Three: Read your details and confirm
And you’re registered. Easy.
You must be registered to vote by April 20th. Two weeks later, on 7th May, you attend your local polling station and vote.
I now know that if you don’t vote then you’ll have no choice about what happens in the next five years.