Campaign launched to give young people the vote

A 'Votes at 16' manifesto will call for political parties to incorporate full voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds

Published

The Body Shop is launching a new campaign in partnership with The British Youth Council to press for young people to have full voting rights by 2024.

They will develop a “Votes at 16” manifesto, calling for all political parties to incorporate full voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds in all national elections and referenda.

The launch comes ahead of local elections on May 5, in which 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland and Wales will be allowed to vote, but not those in other parts of the UK.

A 'Votes at 16' manifesto will call for political parties to incorporate full voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds
A 'Votes at 16' manifesto will call for political parties to incorporate full voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds

The Body Shop said young people have never been more active in civic society, with research suggesting there could be as many as 800,000 young carers in the UK, while almost a third of new enlisters in the armed forces are 16 or 17- year-olds.

The report added that young people remain under-represented in politics, with only 3.2% of MPs aged 30 or under, compared to 36% of the UK population.

Campaign launched to give young people the vote
Campaign launched to give young people the vote

Maddie Smith, managing director of The Body Shop, said: “We recognise the many issues facing young people and believe there is one simple step we can take to create real change: empower young people to have a voice in public affairs.”

Jo Hobbs, chief executive of the British Youth Council, said: “It cannot be right that we have a postcode lottery when it comes to participating in such an important democratic right.

“This is our opportunity to remind decision-makers that young people have been calling for voting parity for both local and general elections across the UK for 20 years.

“Politicians must give a new generation of change makers the opportunities to participate so they can play an active role in resolving some of the biggest societal challenges we face.”