Young voters are more concerned with practical help with the cost of living than issues such as the environment, immigration, tax avoidance and Britain’s membership of the EU, according to a poll of under 25-year-olds.
The results suggest that as many as 3m youth votes are up for grabs at the general election; 44% of 18- to 25-year-olds have not decided which party to vote for. In the poll of 1,000 youngsters, 77% said they intended to vote, with young men more interested in politics than young women (48% compared with 30%).
The survey for the thinktank Demos showed the top three policies that would make young people more likely to vote were guaranteed jobs for young people in long-term employment, reducing the cost of higher education, and raising the national minimum wage.
The poll showed 69% were most concerned by living costs, while 62% said affordable housing, and 58% said either unemployment or the NHS. Online privacy concerned 50% of respondents.
By comparison only 45% of young people were concerned by environmental issues, 43% by immigration, 37% by tax avoidance and 34% by Britain’s relationship with the EU.
The findings areseparate from some Opinium polling in the Observer of 17- to 22-year-olds showing Labour in the lead with 41% support.
Demos proposes a package of Skype MP surgeries, social media hustings, online voting, same day electoral registration and a code of conduct at Prime Minister’s Questions to boost youth political participation. It was even suggested that two out of five young voters are more likely to vote if they had someone to accompany them, suggesting polling stations can be forbidding places for first time voters. One in four young people said they would be more likely to vote if they knew via social media that their friends and family had voted.
The report also finds young people closer on a spectrum to individual responsibility and away from state assistance, when given a choice. This was particularly true for young women: 52% of young women said individuals should take more responsibility for providing themselves, compared with 45% of men; and just 36% of young women felt the state should take more responsibility to ensure everyone is provided for, compared with 43% of young men.
More than half of young people were very concerned about the gap between rich and poor in Britain, and the policies most likely to motivate them to vote for a party were oriented towards more state intervention, such as a jobs guarantee
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