General Election policy tracker

Resource
20 Jun 2024

Our Policy Tracker presents key policy commitments made in the seven main party manifestos relating to young people in our main policy areas.

A General Election has been called for Thursday 4th July. It provides Youth Access Members with an important opportunity to: 

  • engage young people in democracy,  
  • campaign for national change and  
  • establish strong relationships with local politicians and your future MP

This resource presents key policy commitments made in each of the seven main party manifestos relating to young people in our main policy areas. It does not include commitments made by parties in Northern Ireland.  

For each manifesto, we consider the policy commitments that relate to our three Key Policy Asks that we have invited all political parties to commit to ahead of the General Election, which are as follows: 

1. Young people in all local communities able to access advice and counselling services 

For this policy area, we have identified commitments that relate to our #FundtheHubs campaign for an ‘early support hubs' for every young person in England. 

2. Mental health support that meets young people’s needs and rights 

For this policy area, we present wider commitments around mental health, including general NHS reforms which may improve access. 

3. A fair plan for young people in social welfare policy and decision making

For this policy area, we include commitments around youth voice and democracy, welfare benefits, youth employment and skills and training.  

 

There are, of course, more commitments relevant to young people in the manifestos – particularly commitments around crime and justice, equalities provisions for minoritized groups, cultural and sporting activities, children’s social care and education commitments. 

We have taken care to ensure the below information is provided impartially and factually, with the intention to inform and engage member organisations and the public. We encourage readers to read the manifestos themselves for further information and provide direct links for this purpose.  

Any errors on this page are our own. Please get in touch to highlight anything that might be missing, inaccurate or misrepresented.  

Youth Access have produced a range of materials to support members during the General Election. You can find more resources on our Election Hub.

We also have a range of resources to help you think about your work with local decision makers and campaigns in your area in the Member's area Influencing Library.

 

Youth Access Disclaimer for Members using this information:  

In the run up, we also wanted to remind you that any activity done as part of Youth Access is subject to charity law and the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 "The Lobbying Act". Not all members of the Youth Access are charities, but when doing anything under the Youth Access umbrella, or using the logo, members must follow charity law and the Lobbying Act. As Youth Access, and when acting as a Youth Access member, we do not endorse or support any political party, politician, or candidate. We act in an impartial and cross-party way. Youth Access does not, in its communications or activities, seek to influence how people vote. By continuing to campaign with us, and take part in Youth Access activities, members agree that they will not carry out any regulated activity under the auspices of or using the brand and identity of Youth Access. 

Contents in alphabetical order:

  • Conservative Manifesto
  • Green Party Manifesto
  • Labour Manifesto
  • Liberal Democrats Manifesto
  • Plaid Cymru Manifesto
  • Reform Party Manifesto
  • Scottish National Party Manifesto

     

conservative logo

Conservative Manifesto

'Clear Plan, Bold Action, Secure Future'

Accessing counselling and advice 

The Conservatives have committed to open early support hubs for those aged 11-25 in every local community by 2030.   

Other commitments relevant to counselling, advice and community support for young people include: 

  • Supporting those leaving care with housing, education and employment, in addition to expanding befriending and mentoring programmes for care leavers

Mental health support 

The Conservatives have made the following commitments on mental health: 

  • Expand coverage of Mental Health Support Teams from 50% to 100% of schools and colleges in England by 2030
  • Increase the planned expansion of NHS Talking Therapies by 50%, supporting people with anxiety, stress and depression
  • Boost the capacity of Individual Placement and Support for Severe Mental Illness by 140,000 places
  • Pass a new law to provide better treatment and support for severe mental health needs in the first session of the next Parliament

Social welfare policy 

The Conservatives have committed to keeping the voting age at 18. 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

  • Reform disability benefits by reforming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) assessments to provide a more objective consideration of people’s needs and stop the number of claims from rising unsustainably
  • People suffering with mental health conditions do not always face the same additional living costs as people with physical disabilities - The Conservatives will look at the best way to provide support, including whether treatment or services could be more appropriate for some people than a monthly cash payment
  • Tighten up how the benefits system assesses capability for work by changing assessments from September 2025 so that those with more moderate mental health issues or mobility problems who could potentially engage with the world of work are given tailored support, instead of being written off on benefits
  • Introduce tougher sanctions rules so people who refuse to take up suitable jobs after 12 months on benefits can have their cases closed and their benefits removed entirely

On youth employment the Conservatives have proposed changes 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

On skills and education for young people: 

  • Give young people the skills and opportunities they deserve by introducing mandatory National Service for all school leavers at 18, with the choice between a competitive placement in the military or civic service roles
  • Deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, giving adults the support they need to train, retrain and upskill flexibly throughout their working lives

On transport for young people: 

  • Extend the £2 bus fare cap in England for the entirety of the next Parliament, benefitting young people 
Green Party logo

Green Party Manifesto

'Real Hope, Real Change'

Accessing counselling and advice 

The Green Party commits to ensuring: 

  • local authorities are properly funded to deliver youth services including the youth workers who play a key role in keeping young people safe
  • Tailored and specific provision [for mental health] is readily available for the particular needs of communities of colour, children and adolescents, older people and Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer and Asexual (LGBTIQA+) communities

Other commitments relevant to counselling, advice and community support for young people include: 

  • Restore legal aid for public law cases so everybody can uphold their rights in court

Mental health support 

The Green Party have made the following commitments on mental health: 

  • Everyone who needs it can access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days
  • More accessible and prompt mental health needs assessments for children and adolescents 
  • Provide a trained and paid counsellor in every primary and secondary school, and every sixth-form college
  • Provide bursaries to train counsellors from underrepresented backgrounds to ensure we have sufficient culturally aware counsellors for our diverse population
  • Fully restore the role of the school nurse, ensuring that all schools have access to an on-site medical professional
  • Push for children in foster care or who have been adopted to have consistent access to a trained counsellor until it is no longer required

Social welfare policy 

The Green Party has committed to votes from the age of 16. 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

For people with disabilities: 

  • Increase Universal Credit and legacy benefits by £40 a week
  • End the unfair five-week wait for benefits which is pushing people into debt
  • Restore the value of disability benefits with an immediate uplift of 5%
  • Increase carer’s allowance by at least 10% a month
  • End the unfair targeting of carers and disabled people on benefits
  • Oppose plans to replace Personal Independence Payments (PIP) cash payments with ‘vouchers’, and in the long-term reform intrusive eligibility tests like PIP
  • End benefit sanctions 
  • Push for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income

On youth employment the Green Party have proposed changes to: 

  • Equal rights for all workers currently excluded from protections, including ‘gig economy’ workers and those on ‘zero hours’ contracts 
  • Seek to introduce a minimum wage of £15 an hour for all, no matter your age 

On skills and education for young people: 

  • A £3bn increase in funding for sixth-form education over the next parliamentary term, and a £12bn investment in skills and lifelong learning for further education
  • Fully fund every higher education student, restoring maintenance grants and scrapping undergraduate tuition fees - Our long-term plans also include seeking to cancel the injustice of graduate debt
  • The restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance to financially support young people to extend their studies after the age of 16 

On transport for young people: 

  • free bus travel for under-18s
labour logo

Labour Manifesto

'Change'

Accessing counselling and advice 

Labour have committed to a plan for Young Futures Hubs, which will make sure every community has an open-access hub for children and young people with drop-in mental health support. 

These hubs will have youth workers, mental health support workers, and careers advisers on hand to support young people’s mental health and avoid them being drawn into crime.  

Other commitments relevant to counselling, advice and community support for young people include: 

  • Youth workers and mentors in A&E units and Pupil Referral Units 

Mental health support 

Labour have made the following commitments on mental health: 

  • Deliver a modern appointment booking system to end the 8am scramble
  • Recruit an additional 8,500 new staff to treat children and adults struggling with their mental health through our first term
  • Labour will modernise the Mental Health Act to give patients greater choice, autonomy, enhanced rights and support, and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect throughout treatment 

Social welfare policy 

Labour have committed to extending the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds in all elections 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

  • Labour is committed to reviewing Universal Credit so that it makes work pay and tackles poverty

On youth employment, Labour have proposed changes to: 

  • Labour will create a flexible Growth and Skills Levy, with Skills England consulting on eligible courses to ensure qualifications offer value for money
  • Labour will establish a youth guarantee of access to training, an apprenticeship, or support to find work for all 18- to 21-year-olds 
  • Guarantee two weeks’ worth of work experience for every young person, and improve careers advice in schools and colleges
  • Labour will also remove the discriminatory age bands, so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage
  • Banning exploitative zero hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and introducing basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal

On skills and education for young people: 

  • Labour will transform Further Education colleges into specialist Technical Excellence Colleges. 
  • The current higher education funding settlement does not work for the taxpayer, universities, staff, or students - Labour will act to create a secure future for higher education and the opportunities it creates across the UK
  • Improve access to universities 

On transport for young people: 

  • The Labour Manifesto does not make specific commitments to support young people with transport costs
liberal democrats logo

Liberal Democrats Manifesto

'For a Fair Deal'

Accessing counselling and advice 

The Liberal Democrats have committed to mental health hubs for young people in every community.  

Other commitments relevant to counselling, advice and community support for young people include: 

  • Providing better signposting between talking therapies and debt advice
  • Expanding social prescribing and investing in community projects that bring people together to combat loneliness 
  • Investing in more specialist drug and addiction youth support services
  • Investing in youth services that are genuinely engaging and reach more young people
  • Establishing a new right to affordable, reasonable legal assistance, and making the Legal Aid system simpler, fairer and more generous

Mental health support 

The Liberal Democrats have made the following commitments on mental health: 

  • The right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours, if urgent, utilising a universal 24/7 booking system
  • Introduce regular mental health check-ups at key points in people’s lives when they are most vulnerable to mental ill-health
  • Ending out-of-area mental health placements 
  • Extending young people’s mental health services up to the age of 25 
  • Increasing access to clinically effective talking therapies and tackling sitgma through public education campaigns
  • Taking an evidence-led approach to preventing and treating eating disorders, and challenging damaging stigma about weight
  • Modernising the Mental Health Act to strengthen people’s rights, give them more choice and control over their treatment and prevent inappropriate detentions
  • Creating a statutory, independent Mental Health Commissioner to represent patients, their families and carers
  • Reducing suicide rates with a focus on community suicide prevention services and improving prevention training for frontline NHS staff
  • Introducing a new kitemark for health apps and digital tools that are clinically proven to help people lead healthier lives
  • Create a new ‘Patients Charter’ which would include rights to a second opinion, maintain contact in all health and care settings, and to protecting patient data
  • Introducing a statutory Student Mental Health Charter and requiring universities to make mental health services accessible to their students
  • Improve the police response to mental ill-health through a one-hour handover target between the police and mental health services, a mental health professional in the control room and adequate levels of training for officers in mental health response 
  • Put a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school, making sure all children and parents have someone they can turn to for help

Social welfare policy 

The Liberal Democrats have committed to giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote, incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law and appointing a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People.  

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

  • Expand and improve carer’s allowance, including for carers in full-time education 
  • Improve Universal Credit by reducing the wait for the first payment from five weeks to five days and by replacing sanctions with an incentive-based scheme to help people into work
  • Ending the young parent penalty for under-25s by restoring the full rate of Universal Credit for all parents regardless of age
  • Improving benefits for disabled people by bringing work Capability Assessments in-house and reforming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments to make the process more transparent and stop unnecessary reassessments
  • Ending period poverty by introducing a right for anyone who needs them to access free period products

On youth employment the Liberal Democrats have proposed changes to: 

  • Replace the ‘apprenticeship levy’ with a broader and more flexible ‘skills and training levy’
  • Boost the take-up of apprenticeships by guaranteeing they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage 
  • Reform the ‘gig economy’ by  

    - Establishing a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status with entitlements to minimum earnings levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement

    - Setting a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty in their hours

    - Giving a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months for ‘zero hours’ and agency workers, not to be unreasonably refused

    - Reviewing rules concerning pensions so that those in the gig economy don’t lose out 

  • Strengthen careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges

On skills and education for young people: 

  • Create new Lifelong Skills Grants, giving all adults £5,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives, and aim to increase them to £10,000 in the future when the public finances allow
  • Introducing a Young Carers Pupil Premium as part of an ‘Education Guarantee’ for young carers 
  • Reinstate maintenance grants for disadvantaged students immediately to make sure that living costs are not a barrier to studying at university
  • Introduce a Young People’s Premium, extending Pupil Premium funding to disadvantaged young people aged 16-18
  • Ensuring that all universities work to widen participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and requiring every university to be transparent about selection criteria

On transport for young people: 

  • Extending half-fares on buses, trams and trains to 18-year-olds
  • Working with operators to introduce a ‘Young Person’s Buscard’, similar to the Young Person’s Railcard, giving 19- to 25-year-olds a third off bus and tram fares
plaid cymru logo

Plaid Cymru Manifesto

‘For Fairness, For Ambition, For Wales’

Accessing counselling and advice 

The Plaid Cymru Manifesto does not make specific commitments on local counselling and advice services for young people.  

Other commitments relevant to counselling, advice and community support for young people include: 

  • Additional help to prevent legal aid ‘deserts’ which means that individuals are prevented from accessing timely advice and support

Mental health support 

Plaid Cymru have made the following commitments on mental health: 

  • Reform of the Mental Health Act based on the independent review of the Act in 2018 and the 2021 White Paper - Press Welsh Government to make necessary amendments to the Code of Practice in Wales
  • Resource schools to invest in additional learning needs provision mental health support

Social welfare policy 

Plaid Cymru support extending votes to 16- and 17-year-olds. 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

  • In Wales, there has been a universal basic income pilot with care leavers, and Plaid Cymru await the findings of that project before making further commitments
  • Increase Universal Credit so it meets the essential costs of living
  • End sanctions and reduce the wait for first payments of Universal Credit
  • Oppose proposed Conservative changes to the Work Capability Assessment
  • Review Local Housing Allowance to ensure it reflects local rents

On youth employment Plaid Cymru have proposed changes to: 

  • Ensure apprentices are paid the living wage
  • Abolish compulsory zero-hours contracts

On skills and education for young people: 

  • Support colleges to deliver projects that reduce the financial burden on students such as free travel and free meals
  • Make University education free again for all by working with Universities to develop a plan to make them financially viable so that this can become a genuine option
  • Offer a grant of £5,000 to the Personal Learning Accounts of every individual over 25 to train or retrain, with added loans to cover more expensive courses and maintenance costs for those who want to take courses full time (repaid in the same way as student loans)

On transport for young people: 

Investigate a scheme for free bus travel for young people.

reform logo

Reform Party Manifesto

'Our Contract with You'

Accessing counselling and advice 

The Reform Party’s “contract” document does not make specific commitments to local counselling and advice services for young people.  

Mental health support 

Reform does not make any specific pledges about mental health care in its ‘contract’ document. It pledges to cut waiting lists to zero for all NHS treatment by: 

  • Incentivising medical professionals to work in the NHS through tax cuts 
  • Incentivising individuals to take up private healthcare through tax cuts 
  • Using the private and non-profit sector to increase NHS capacity 
  • Cut wasteful spending in the NHS and reinvest the money saved in frontline services

Social welfare policy 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to: 

  • Reforms to benefit support and training will help people back into work with a particular focus on 16-34 year olds - Employment is critical to improving mental health
  • Tax relief for businesses that undertake apprenticeships
  • Personal Independence Payment and Work Capability Assessment should be face to face
  • Require independent medical assessments to prove eligibility for payments - Those registered with severe disabilities or serious long-term illnesses would be exempt from regular checks

On youth employment Reform have proposed changes to: 

  • All job seekers and those fit to work must find employment within 4 months or accept a job after 2 offers otherwise, benefits are withdrawn

On skills and education for young people: 

  • Scrap interest on student loans and extend loan capital repayment periods to 45 years 
  • Restrict undergraduate numbers well below current levels, too many courses are not good enough and students are being ripped off - Enforce minimum entry standards
  • Permanent Exclusions for Violent and Disruptive Students, achieved by doubling the number of Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) so schools can function safely - Reform will also ensure that best practice is spread across PRUs
  • Universities Must Provide 2-Year Undergraduate Courses. The option of 2-year courses would reduce student debt and allow earlier entry into employment to help pay it off

On transport for young people: 

  • There are no specific commitments on public transport for young people
snp logo

Scottish National Party Manifesto

'A future made in Scotland'

Accessing counselling and advice

The SNP Manifesto does not make specific commitments on local counselling and advice services for young people. 

Mental health support

The SNP have made the following commitments on health services:

  • SNP MPs will push the UK Government to invest an extra £10 billion per year in the NHS in England which would result in a further £1 billion a year for the Scottish Government to invest in health services. 

Social welfare policy

The Scottish National Party has introduced votes from 16 in Scotland and advocates for this in all UK elections. The also advocate for the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law, as has been done in Scotland. 

On welfare benefits they have proposed changes to:

  • Increase Universal Credit so it meets the essential costs of living.
  • Push for an annual uplift of Local Housing Allowance
  • Increase the National Minimum Wage to be in-line with the National Living Wage.
  • End age discrimination in pay levels. 
  • Ensure access to sick pay for everyone
  • End the young parent penalty in Universal Credit for parents who are under 25

On youth employment the SNP have proposed changes to:

  • Ending zero-hours contracts

On skills and education for young people:

  • Retain free university education in Scotland

On transport for young people:

  • The SNP in Government in Scotland provide free bus travel for all under-21 and commit to this continuing.