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September 14, 2013. Ed Davey.

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Lib Dems pledge youth-focused agenda: Exclusive interview with Sir Ed Davey

16 year-old Jefferson He interviews Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey on youth-centric issues

Ahead of the next UK general election, the Liberal Democrat leader promises to continue “knocking on the doors of young people” across the country to listen to and address their concerns in an exclusive interview with Harbingers Magazine.

The Lib Dems will advocate for issues particularly significant to young people, including improving the health service, assisting individuals amidst the cost of living crisis, taking action on climate change, and pushing for meaningful political reform to ensure equal voting rights for all.

“Everyone’s vote will be equal – and MPs who ignore the challenges of young people cannot hide behind the first-past-the-post voting system,” stated the Lib Dem leader.

Addressing the health crisis

Reflecting on strategies to address health issues, Sir Ed Davey emphasised the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to improving the National Health Service (NHS) by investing in general practitioner (GP) and mental health services, dentistry, and hospitals.

Additionally, the party introduced the Schools’ Mental Health Bill to Parliament, aiming to enhance mental health support for children and young people. However, Sir Ed Davey criticised the Conservative government for its slow response to the pressures facing mental health services.

“In response to the mental health crisis among children and young people, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic,” stated the Lib Dem leader, “our plans include funding a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in each of England’s 22,000 state-funded schools.”

NHS data from 2023 indicated that a probable mental disorder was present for one in five children and young people aged 8–25 in England. Surveys reveal widespread parental concern about their children’s mental health, with many attributing the cause to the impacts of social media, including pressures to constantly engage, cyberbullying, abuse, and exposure to harmful content.

Looking ahead, the Lib Dems aspire to introduce a statutory Student Mental Health Charter, ensuring universities provide accessible mental health services to their students.

In other health-related improvements, the Lib Dems aim to streamline access to dentists and GPs, expedite the initiation of cancer treatment, and reduce unacceptable waiting times.

Housing solutions and investment in education

Sir Ed Davey stressed the importance of rebuilding relations with Europe to “make sure young people can prosper in the future.” He additionally highlighted the “housing crisis” and “transport” as two of the most pressing issues facing the youth in the UK today.

According to the party leader, the Lib Dems are exploring solutions to the UK housing crisis, such as empowering local authorities to construct more social housing, extending the default tenancy for private rentals from 1 to 3 years, and reforming the eviction process, with statistics revealing the urgent need for action.

Regarding transportation, the Lib Dems aim to introduce a Young Person’s Bus Card, akin to the Young Person’s Railcard, catering to 19–25 year-olds and offering a third-off bus fares.

Sir Ed Davey, reflecting on his forward-looking plans, highlighted several key priorities to address pressing issues facing young people. Among these, he proposed the appointment of a dedicated Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People to effectively champion their needs and ensure they are made a government priority.

Additionally, he suggested the introduction of a young people’s premium, expanding pupil premium grant funding to support disadvantaged individuals aged 16-18.

To tackle barriers to higher education, the Lib Dems will advocate for the immediate reinstatement of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, ensuring that living costs do not hinder access to university education. Moreover, Sir Ed Davey proposed imposing a statutory duty of care on higher education institutions towards their students.

Finally, to combat the skills and recruitment crisis, the Lib Dem leader emphasised the importance of investing in education and training, including increasing the availability of apprenticeships and enhancing career advice services for young people.

Evaluating the Lib Dems’ prospects in the upcoming general elections, the party leader expressed cautious optimism, emphasising that nothing is being taken for granted.

“However, we feel we are heading for a successful general election in which we can take several seats from the Conservatives,” concluded Sir Ed Davey.

Lib Dems won four seats from the Tories since the 2019 by-elections thus increasing the number of MPs to 15 in the current parliament.

Written by:

author_bio

Jefferson He

Editor-in-chief

London, United Kingdom

Born in 2007 in Hong Kong, Jefferson studies in Reading, England and plans to attend a university in the United Kingdom.

Jefferson joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 — first as a contributor, but quickly became the UK Correspondent. In 2024, he took over as the editor-in-chief and acting editor of the Politics section.

Additionally, Jefferson coordinates the Harbingerettes project in Nepal, where a group of 10 students has journalism-themed lessons in English. He spends some of his holiday reporting on the development of LGBT+ rights in Asia (one of his articles was published by The Diplomat).

He is interested in philosophy, journalism, sports, religious studies, and ethics. In his free time, Jefferson – who describes himself as “young, small and smart” – watches movies, enjoys gardening and plays sports. He speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Edited by:

author_bio

Timur Boranbayev

Economics Section Editor

London, United Kingdom

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