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31 March, 2011

Education and Health benefit most from the first ever Youth Budget

Today, for the first time, a Youth Budget will be presented to HM Treasury. The Youth Budget represents the voices of over 1,000 young people aged between 14 and 18.

  • Of all areas of public spending, ‘education' was the most popular area to invest in;
  • 80 per cent chose to cut spending on ‘welfare' by up to £10 billion;
  • Hardest hit were ‘culture, media and sport' and ‘housing and environment'.

Faced with the need to tackle the budget deficit, the vast majority of the young people (84 per cent) recognised the need to cut public spending. They chose to make cuts, on average, of five per cent (£35 billion) over the current Spending Review cycle.

Education and health suffered the least stringent cuts, with spending priorities of 69 per cent and 76 per cent respectively. However, other areas - most notably culture, media and sport and housing and environment - suffered particularly harsh cuts: almost a third of participants opted to cut spending in these areas by 40 per cent. Welfare was another area where deep cuts were made, with 80 per cent of participants opting to cut spending by up to £10 billion.

The Youth Budget brings together the results of the Chance to be Chancellor challenge, an online interactive tool that invited young people to give their opinions on public spending in eight key areas. Chance to be Chancellor is part of the Paying for It programme, an economic awareness education programme run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with Aviva.

Between January and March of this year, 2,826 young people aged 14 to 18 from across the UK participated in the Chance to be Chancellor online challenge to create their own Budget for the country. Of these, 249 went on to present the case for their Budgets in competition for the coveted title of ‘Youth Chancellor'. Of the 2,826 young people who created a Budget, 1,363 (ie those who were not anonymous) are represented in the Youth Budget.

This afternoon, Priyesh Patel - winner of the Chance to be Chancellor competition - will present the Youth Budget to Sir Nicholas Macpherson, Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury. A panel of MPs, chaired by Sam Fleming, Economics editor of the Times will debate issues of the economy and take questions from competition participants.

Commenting on the Youth Budget, Andy Thornton, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said:

'These findings demonstrate that, when informed, young people can take difficult decisions about how to manage the economy, which at the moment requires decisions about where the deepest public spending cuts should take place. Young people have a valuable and interesting contribution to make to this important public debate. This is evident in the choices they made around prioritisation of spending. When it came to the crunch, they decided to very much focus on spending in the here and now (health and education) rather than investing in issues which may have a longer term impact on the economy, such as the environment.

'As voters of the future, it is incumbent on the Government to pay attention to the voice of young people. The Youth Budget is an attempt to channel that voice so that young people get their say on significant economic issues of the day.'

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