Matthew Walsham - Partnership for Young London

Matthew Walsham – Partnership for Young London

The European debate is in full swing in the capital, with local MPs and local authorities having their say on Brexit.  Yet both sides need to be clearer on the impact it will have on young people, many of which will not have a say in the upcoming European referendum on June 23rd.

A full stock must be taken of European Union funded programmes for young people, so that we continue to support them – regardless of the outcome.

Funds like Erasmus+ and the European Structural Fund provide opportunity and support for young Londoners. Recently the European Social Fund worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to tackle NEETs in the capital, and other barriers to employment, providing £410 million over 6 years – many of those programs directly went to helping young people.

In total, the European Structural and Investment Funds provide €6.2 billion over 6 years to programmes across England – many of which benefit young people. The stay campaign should detail and explain the benefits of which, to help people to make an informed decision.

Leave.eu claim that the UK would save £14.3 billion per year on our net EU contribution – covering funding for those EU programmes. In which case there must be a clearer vision on what youth funding will look like in the case of Brexit – what will replace lost EU programmes, if at all?

There should be continued opportunity for students to continue studying abroad, like through Erasmus+, alongside unemployment initiatives, and schemes that share good practice with our partners abroad.

The European Referendum was conceived as a democratic exercise, giving people their say on the UK’s membership of the EU. Yet the vast majority of young people cannot vote, and many will not vote – with turnout the lowest among the under 25s.

They are reliant on the candidates to address the issues important to them, and speak for them. But according to a recent YouGov Poll, nearly half of young Londoners are put off from registering to vote because candidates are failing to connect with them.

This is a result of young people continuing to be absent from the debate. We need to know clearly what the impact of Brexit will be on young Londoners, who are 25% of the capital’s population.

Both sides need to commit, that in or out, young people will continue to be funded and supported.