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Funding, rights, travel and trade top concerns for young people in Scotland’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe

25 November 2020

A group of children and young people have issued a series of calls about Scotland and the UK’s future relationship with Europe as part of a landmark participation project.

The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe today publishes its report Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too, which gathers evidence and recommendations from a year of work looking at what impact leaving the EU might mean for them.

The key calls made by the Panel, which is supported by Children in Scotland and Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) include:

EU Funding

  • Youth services should retain the same level of funding as they currently do from the EU through replacement support
  • Current spending levels on health and science research must continue or increase post-Brexit, with funding assured for research and infrastructure.


  • Children’s rights to education and health, as set out in the UNCRC, must be met and strengthened after the UK leaves the EU. Information should be provided to support children and young people to learn about politics and big decisions like Brexit so they can form their own opinions, influence decisions and have their voices heard.

Opportunities to Work, Study and Travel

  • Accessible, child-friendly information is urgently required about changes in this area from 1 January 2021.

Economy, trade and jobs

  • The minimum wage should be increased to the same level for all, including 16-24 year-olds
  • High standards need to be maintained in trade, particularly in relation to quality of imported food.

The Panel, comprising 19 members aged 8-19, all of whom were too young to vote in the EU referendum, is funded by Scottish Government EU Directorate, and is making its recommendations to the Scottish Constitution and External Affairs Secretary, Michael Russell MSP.

Commenting on her experience as a member of the Panel, Beccie said:

“The Panel has allowed me to meet with key decision-makers and take young people’s views right to the top.”

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“Young people’s views have been given little attention through the Brexit process, despite it being obvious that it is our next generation who will be most affected by the post-Brexit settlement.

“The recommendations in this report demonstrate the wisdom and expertise young people can bring to the issue of Brexit and the coming change in our relationship with Europe. We’re grateful to all the Panel members for their participation, commitment, and the fantastic quality of their insight.”

Juliet Harris, director of Together, said:

“Children and young people have strong opinions about the kind of Scotland they want to grow up in, and yet they often struggle to get their views heard.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to have their views taken into account in all decisions that affect them.  We look forward to Scottish Government and all those involved in the Brexit negotiations listening to and acting upon the Panel’s calls.”

Responding to the report’s publication, Constitution and External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell said:

“I would like to thank the members of the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe for their dedicated work - much of it undertaken in the very difficult circumstances of the Covid pandemic - to investigate, and articulate, the views of young people from all over Scotland on the challenges posed by Brexit.

“They have identified the issues of rights, funding, the ability to travel, study and work overseas, the economy and jobs as areas where young people have particular concerns.

“As the report correctly concludes, we are all going to be living with the consequences of Brexit for years to come.

“So the Scottish Government will study the report carefully, and we will seek further opportunities to listen to the views of young people on these critically important questions.”

The report is the culmination of a year’s work by the Panel, including correspondence and meetings with key decision-makers across civil society, development of resources, and a social media campaign.

The first phase of the Panel’s work took place from July to December 2018.

Click here to download Young Brexit Voices: It’s Our Future Too

The Panel’s first report, Listen to Us, was published in February 2019. Click here to read the report.

Media contact:
Chris Small,

Young Brexit Voices: It's Our Future Too

The Panel's new report features key calls on our future relationship with Europe

Click here to read the report

Voices and views of Panel members

The Panel has produced a short film about their work and recommendations

Click to watch the film

About the Panel's aims and activities

Young people's views on EU withdrawal are being amplified through the Panel's work

Click to find out more

"Listen to Us"

The Panel's phase one project report, Listen To Us, was published in February 2019

Click to read the report

The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights

Our project partners Together work to improve understanding of the UNCRC

Click to find out more

Our project work

The Panel on Europe is just one of our participation projects

Click to find out more

Childcare expansion: prioritise quality and inclusive practice, and ensure that the child’s experience is central

11 March 2020

Children in Scotland has responded to the issues raised by today’s Holyrood debate on childcare expansion and the recent publication of Audit Scotland's review of progress (click to read).

Sally Cavers, Children in Scotland’s Head of Inclusion, said:

“We believe that the quality of childcare on offer is the vital element of this expansion, and that the experience of the child – particularly given the significant increase in hours – is central.

It should be acknowledged that the government’s childcare expansion plan is a very significant infrastructure project for Scotland. In this context we welcome the fact that at this stage 90% of providers appear to have met the standards required.

But we would be concerned by any indication of compromises in standards and the potential impact this could have on children.

Tied to the issue of quality is the skills and status of the early learning and childcare workforce. They are the front line in supporting all childhood development in ELC settings. Pay, training and attitudes to the contribution they make should reflect this.

We note that Audit Scotland’s report highlights Brexit’s likely impact on recruiting and retaining staff to work in childcare settings – a concern that has been raised by our own members.

Another fundamental consideration of the expansion process is inclusive practice. Childcare providers have responsibilities under Additional Support for Learning legislation to ensure that provision is accessible for young children with additional support needs, and we continue to reiterate this message to the Scottish Government.

Children in Scotland administers the Early Learning Childcare and Inclusion Fund, which provides funding to ELC settings to support children with additional support needs in Scotland access their funded ELC entitlement, and we are fully supportive of ongoing efforts to make centres more inclusive.”

Early years training

We offer a range of CPD for anyone working in or wishing to work in the early years

Click to browse our courses

Consultation responses

Read our policy responses on childcare and early years

Click to browse our responses

CHANGE: Childcare and Nurture, Glasgow East

We're working on a project to create better childcare for communities in Glasgow

Click to read more

New phase of Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe will ensure young voices are heard in Brexit negotiations

19 November 2019

Children and young people will again have the opportunity to advise the Scottish Government on the issues they would like to be considered as part of Brexit negotiations with Westminster and the European Union as part of a landmark participation project.

The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe, initiated by Children in Scotland and independently led by the charity in partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), will also develop resources to provide helpful information for children across Scotland about what leaving the EU might mean for their lives.

Children in Scotland and Together supported the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe from July to December 2018, and it will reconvene next month.

The Panel previously comprised 19 members aged 8-19 years, with the next phase being made up of 20 children and young people, including some of the previous panel members.

All members were too young to vote in the EU referendum but worked to identify five areas of primary importance to children and young people in their relationship with Europe. These areas will continue to be the focus of their work:

  • EU funding
  • Opportunities to work, study and travel in other countries
  • The economy, trade and jobs
  • Rights
  • Uncertainty

Welcoming the next stage of the project, panel member Soroush, aged 13, said: "Since we met last and our report was published, Brexit is still a matter of uncertainty. We still don't know what the end result will look like. I want to continue to promote our voice since we are the generation that will be affected the most."

Panel member and MSYP Jack Bell, aged 17, said: “The current political atmosphere is incredibly rich, yet dense; it's difficult to navigate, especially for a young person who may have a limited understanding of politics.

“I'm honoured to be able to speak on behalf of young people and bring their voices to the top tables of decision-making, especially on an issue as important as Brexit.”

And panel member Oscar, aged 9, added: “I am so glad we are continuing our work and I can’t wait to get stuck in!”

The Panel will meet eight times between December and July 2020 to share their views, learn more about the process of leaving the EU, and find out what other children and young people across the United Kingdom have said, before deciding what they want the priorities to be for the future.

The Panel, funded by Scottish Government EU Directorate, will make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Mike Russell. It will maintain links across the Scottish Parliament and wider civic society through the Cross-Party Group on Children and Young People, and other relevant organisations.

The Panel builds on work by the Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot, the My Life My Say movement and others, which found that children and young people feel anxious and uncertain about what Brexit means for them.

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said: “Children and young people have strong opinions about the kind of Scotland they want to grow up in, and yet they often struggle to get their views heard.

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children have the right to have their views taken into account in all decisions that affect them.

“The next stage of the Panel’s work will help to make this right real and ensure children’s views are listened to, respected and taken into account by those involved in the Brexit negotiations.”

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Joint Acting Chief Executive and Head of Policy, Projects and Participation said: “The first phase of the Panel gave young people a say on Brexit and our future relationship with Europe.

“We're delighted that this next stage will build on those foundations and ensure that children and young people’s voices are no longer marginalised on one of the most vital social, economic and cultural issues of our times.”

The Panel will be sharing blogs, video content and helpful resources for children and young people throughout the project.

Media enquiries:

Jemma Tracey, Communications Officer, Children in Scotland: 0131 313 8849 (Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Chris Small, Communications Manager, Children in Scotland: 0131 313 8824 / (Monday, Thursday and Friday)

Juliet Harris, Director, Together, 0131 337 9015 / 

Editors’ notes:

Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights)

Together is an alliance of Scottish children's charities that works to improve the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

We do this by:

  • promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • helping children's organisations to integrate the UNCRC into their work;
  • monitoring and reporting on the progress made at a Scottish and UK level.

Our growing membership is made up of a range of children's charities, from small local playgroups through to large international charities, alongside individuals, academics and professionals with an interest in children's rights.

"It gives me hope for the future"

Watch a video to find out more about the Panel and the first phase of the project

Click to watch the film

"Listen to us on Brexit"

The Panel produced a report and set of recommendations in February 2019

Click to download the report

Young People's Panel on Europe

Find out more about the project and recruitment of new members

Click to read the project details

Why involving young people is better for all

A blog by Ellie Roy, member of our young people's advisory group Changing our World

Click to read Ellie's blog

"We're not doing well enough on mental health," First Minister tells young people from across Scotland

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has told an audience of young people about ‘horrific’ comments on her social media channels, why her government is not doing well enough on mental health, that she would still ‘dingy’ Donald Trump – and why she hated her first job.

She was taking part in First Minister’s Question Time Next Generation, held in Edinburgh earlier this week and run by national charities Children in Scotland and YouthLink Scotland.

Mental health services

Mental health was again a key theme for FMQT Next Generation. Riana, aged 19 and from West Dunbartonshire, asked whether the Scottish Government would invest more money in mental health support services. Despite being through the system of CAMHS, she was not diagnosed until aged 18 by adult services. She told the First Minister that the current system had failed her.

The First Minister said that a lot of work and investment was going in to this area and there were now more counsellors in schools, but admitted that: “On mental health we still don’t do enough of that and we don’t do it well enough.”

President Trump

Co-host John Loughton reminded the First Minister of a 2016 TV interview with Gary Tank Commander actor Greg McHugh in which she said she would ‘dingy’ Donald Trump. With the UK state visit of the president planned for June, was that still the case?

“If it was me, Nicola Sturgeon, ordinary citizen, it would definitely be ‘dingy’,” she said. “As First Minister I’m not going to refuse to meet the President of United States should that arise. I wouldn’t hold back from telling him where I disagreed with him.”


Responding to questions about the protection of current EU laws post-Brexit, the First Minister hit out at hardline Brexiteers, arguing that they see advantage in reducing protections for workers and the environment. She described Jacob Rees Mogg as “coming from the 17th century” and said that some politicians in the UK are guilty of “exploiting people’s fears”.


On the subject of a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying the decision had to rest ultimately with the Scottish people, given the significant changes in circumstance since the Brexit vote:

“The future of the country should not be decided by me or Theresa May, it should be decided by the people of Scotland. If people want to accept Brexit and stay in the UK that is one thing but it should not be forced upon us, we should have the ability to choose.”

Personal questions

The First Minister revealed that she sleeps five hours a night. She also talked about her first job selling tattie scones around doors in Dreghorn, which she hated so much that she used to get her dad to do it instead.

And, giving an insight into what she does to relax, she said she likes to “switch on, to switch off” by watching Coronation Street.

Social media

On negative and bullying behaviour on social media, the First Minister said she tries not to look at the “tickertape” of negative comments on her Twitter.

“If I was going to go and search my name on Twitter it would probably be pretty horrific what came up.”

She told the audience that we all have a responsibility to stand up against bullying online and accused those companies who make millions from running social media platforms of not taking their responsibilities as seriously as they should.

Responding to a question about advice she would give to young people feeling pressurised by social media, she said she that as a young person at school she was very shy and didn’t have a lot of confidence.

She gave this advice to the young people in the audience: “Be yourself and believe in yourself, and don’t let people bring you down.”

Trans rights

Ethan, aged 20 from LGBT Youth Scotland, pressed the First Minister on the current timetable for amending the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which would allow transgender people to self-declare their gender, instead of going through the process of medical approval and certification.

There have been concerns about whether the changes will be made by 2021. Ethan asked, on behalf of trans young people in Scotland, for her guarantee that the law would change.

The First Minister reiterated her support for trans rights and said the legislation was on track to be amended by 2021. She said she understood that people may be frustrated but that it was better for it to take longer and “get it right”.

Addressing the controversy around changes to the GRA, the FM said she was disappointed the debate had become so polarised. It was her job to find a way through by making sure all sides were heard, she added.

She also highlighted the depth of transphobia in Scotland. Questioned on press reports of splits in her cabinet about the issue, she said: “That’s part of leadership – you deal with divided opinion."

Speaking after the recording, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The decisions taken by government and other policy makers will have a profound impact on the lives of today’s young people and those in the future. That’s why it is vital that their voices are heard and their views listened to.

“It’s important that we empower children and young people to have their say on the issues that they face – the FMQT event is a great way to do that and I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved for a second time.”

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said:

“This second event proves why FMQT Next Generation is quickly becoming a fixture of political debate in Scotland, and we are particularly grateful to the young people on the project Design Team for how they have led and shaped it.”

“It again made clear that young people’s insights are invaluable as we celebrate their contribution to our national life and discuss the improvements we must make for them. The challenge for the Scottish Government now is to keep listening to them in a meaningful way and take forward the vital issues they are raising through the project.”

Tim Frew, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland commented:

“Brexit, mental health, the cost of transport, free school meals, these are just some of the issues that directly affect young people. It’s important that we take the right of children to be heard, seriously.

“FMQT Next Generation is a national platform where young people can give their views and concerns directly to Scotland’s most powerful politician. As part of the legacy of Year of Young People we want to ensure that youth participation at both national and local level is embedded into the decision process for government, parliament and councils.”

Zander, a member of the young people’s Design Team, who shaped FMQT Next Generation, explained why he wanted to be involved in creating a platform for children’s views to be heard:

“Because I was worried about all the big decisions that are being made without asking kids what they will want in the future.”

FMQT Next Generation aims to empower children and young people to take part in political debate and provide a genuine opportunity for them to hold adult decision-makers, including the First Minister, to account.

It was the second FMQT Next Generation following its successful the launch last September as a new platform for 8-to-26 year olds.

The project, funded by the Scottish Government, builds on the participation work of YouthLink Scotland and Children in Scotland, with the aim of putting children and young people at the heart of policymaking and decisions affecting them nationally and locally.


Media contacts:

Sarah Paterson, YouthLink Scotland, or
Chris Small, Children in Scotland,

Notes to editors

If you would like to find out more about the project visit:

click here to visit YouthLink Scotland or click here to visit Children in Scotland


Click here to see the playlist on YouTube

Educational Resource:

Click here to download YouthLink Scotland's resource

More information:

Take a look at a range of different blogs that have been written in the run-up to the first FMQT Next Generation:

Sally Henry, a member of the Online Design Team has written a blog about her experience of being involved in the project. Click here to hear her story so far.

Click here to learn more about the design team and how they've been involved in Emma's blog, or click here to hear from Tamsin, a member of the online design team, as she shares her experience of why she wanted to be involved in #FMQTNextGeneration.

Click here to view the #FMQTNextGeneration videos on YouTube and hear from young people why they wanted to get involved!

Children in Scotland

Giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to flourish is at the heart of everything we do.

By bringing together a network of people working with and for children, alongside children and young people themselves, we offer a broad, balanced and independent voice. We create solutions, provide support and develop positive change across all areas affecting children in Scotland.

We do this by listening, gathering evidence, and applying and sharing our learning, while always working to uphold children’s rights. Our range of knowledge and expertise means we can provide trusted support on issues as diverse as the people we work with and the varied lives of children and families in Scotland.

YouthLink Scotland

The national agency for youth work. It is the voice of the youth work sector in Scotland.

  • It is a membership organisation and is in the unique position of representing the interests and aspirations of the whole of the sector both voluntary and statutory.
  • YouthLink Scotland champions the role and value of the youth work sector, challenging government at national and local levels to invest in the development of the sector.
  • YouthLink Scotland represents over 100 organisations, including the 32 Local Authority Youth Work Services and all major national voluntary youth work organisations, which support over 300,000 young people in achieving their potential.
  • YouthLink Scotland promotes a positive image of Scotland’s young people and seeks to promote their value to communities and society.

Watch FMQT Next Generation

View the programme, which was co-hosted by Razannah Hussain and John Loughton

Click to visit our YouTube

Young people speaking truth to power

Find out more about our project giving children the chance to hold political leaders to account

Click here to read more

Meet the FMQT Design Team

Watch a film from the launch of FMQT last year and meet the young people behind it

Click here to watch the film

Blog: Why I added my voice to the project

FMQT Online Design Team member Sally Henry, aged 16, on why she wanted to take part

Click here to read the blog

Stop excluding children from Brexit dialogue, children's sector groups and Commissioner tell UK parliamentarians

13 September 2017

Children must be heard and their views sought on Brexit, representatives from Scotland’s children’s sector and the Children & Young People’s Commissioner will tell parliamentarians at a special
event at Westminster today (13 September).

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Bruce Adamson, Director of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), Juliet Harris, and Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Amy Woodhouse, will be attending a House of Commons event, Children’s Rights Following Brexit, with Amy Woodhouse speaking at a rally outside Parliament beforehand.

The group, which is coordinating to raise the profile of children’s rights and Brexit at UK-level, is making the following key calls:

  • Despite inheriting the full impact of Brexit as they grow up, children have been excluded from discussions about it, both in the run-up to the referendum and since. A coherent structure now needs to be put in place to ensure they are involved and kept informed.
  • Children and young people have benefited significantly from EU membership and are disproportionately affected by the issues raised pre-Brexit and by withdrawal.
  • Politicians at the forefront of the Brexit debate need to acknowledge and better understand these issues and give children’s views the platform they deserve now.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said:

“Children and young people in Scotland, and across the UK, have the right to contribute their views to the Brexit negotiations and should be given meaningful opportunities to do so. Information on how Brexit could affect their lives should be provided in a child-friendly format and then their views sought in both formal and informal ways.

“The EU has enacted a significant number of legal instruments which give direct entitlement for children in areas including child migration, asylum, child protection and paediatric medicine.

“Legislation that keeps children safe covers child trafficking, child abduction and child sexual exploitation. Much of this has been transposed into domestic law and this has to continue post Brexit. But what is often forgotten is the cross-border EU activity that supports all of this.

“One example is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which provides a fast track expedition procedure across EU Member States. This ensures those who commit crimes against children are arrested and returned to their country to answer charges. Scotland also needs to be able to continue to access EU data, intelligence sharing and security infrastructure.”

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said:

“We're only just beginning to understand the full impact that leaving the European Union could have on children and young people. From family law and child protection through to tackling child trafficking and poverty, the European Union provides children and young people with fundamental rights and protections that are now at risk. In representing the children’s sector at today’s event, we hope parliamentarians begin to recognise and understand the importance of ensuring children and young people’s rights are at the heart of every decision made from now on.

 Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive, Jackie Brock, said:

“According toYouGov, 71% of 18-24 year-olds in the UK voted to Remain in last year’s referendum. The voices of this generation, 16- and 17-year-olds who were disenfranchised from voting in the referendum, and younger children, are being sidelined in the Brexit debate. Yet it’s they who will most feel the impact of our withdrawal from the EU.”

“There is a clear democratic deficit being reflected in the Brexit negotiations. We need our politicians to take notice, demonstrate awareness, and bring children’s voices into the heart of this debate.”

Prior to the House of Commons event Amy Woodhouse will be speaking at a rally outside Parliament organised by the3million, a support network campaigning to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

She said:

“We want to use this opportunity to articulate the grave concerns we have and why we think Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on children compared to the rest of the UK population.”

The event will discuss the possible implications of Brexit for children across the UK, including plans for child-related EU law within the EU Withdrawal Bill, and the social and economic rights of EU migrant and non-EU nationality children in the UK.

Media contact:

Chris Small

0131 313 8824

Notes for Editors:

This was a joint press release between the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) and Children in Scotland

For further information on the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland visit the website at The Commissioner’s remit is to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people, with particular emphasis on the rights set out in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also monitors the law, policy and practice for effectiveness in relation to the rights of children and young people and promotes best practice by service providers working with children

(Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) is an alliance of over 360 children’s organisations, academics and interested professionals. Its vision is that the rights of all children in Scotland are protected, respected and fulfilled, as enshrined in the UNCRC and other human rights conventions. To achieve this, it works with its membership, stakeholders and duty bearers to progress and achieve the realisation of children’s rights in all areas of society.

Children in Scotland
is the collective voice for children, young people and families in Scotland, and organisations and businesses that have a significant impact on children’s lives in Scotland. It is an influencing and membership organisation, comprised of representatives from across the voluntary, public and private sectors.


Becoming a Children in Scotland member means adding your voice to an ever-gorwing network.

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Call to prioritise children's rights in Brexit process

As Brexit negotiations begin in Brussels today, Children in Scotland has joined more than 1,800 organisations across the UK and Europe to call for assurances that the rights of children and young people will be prioritised in the process.

In a statement for key EU and UK negotiators, we call for action to be taken to bring children in to the heart of negotiations on Brexit by:

  • Developing a mechanism to listen to children and young people as part of the Brexit negotiation process
  • Providing assurances that there will be no roll-back on the existing rights of children and young people in the UK and across the EU
  • Ensuring future positive children's rights developments will be recognised by all parties in negotiations
  • Continuing to recognise the importance of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process. Its prioritisation in the current negotiating guidelines of the EU is welcome as it is essential to minimise the potential harm caused to children from Brexit, in particular in Northern Ireland.


Follow the discussion on social media

Join in

Eurochild report

Statement and Call to Action on the Impact of Brexit on Children and Young People

Read more


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Celebrate young voters' impact - and listen to them on Brexit

Children in Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Brock made the following statement reflecting on the result of the 2017 UK General Election:

"As an organisation that has always championed young people’s participation, today we celebrate the fact that an estimated 72% of 18-24 year olds turned out to vote in the UK General Election.

Whichever party they voted for, young people’s involvement on this scale is a massively positive statement about the contribution they can make to our political process, in Scotland and across the UK.

One of the many beneficial side effects of this powerful youth vote, which looks to have increased from 43% in 2015, is that in coming elections parties should no longer be able take young people for granted, patronise them or ignore their priorities. They must instead design policies that are relevant and harness their energy at grassroots level.

While we need to wait until a fuller picture emerges, and other important factors will have shaped young people’s choices, it seems likely that the surge in young voters partly represents a rebuke to Theresa May’s stance on Brexit. As I have previously argued71% of 18-24 year-olds in the UK voted to Remain in last year’s referendum on EU membership.

In this context the new political settlement is an opportunity to strengthen young people’s participation and hear what they have to say about Brexit – a debate from which they have thus far been marginalised.

We therefore call on the new government to ensure that the process of leaving the EU does not negatively impact on children’s rights. We also urge all parties to consider the voices and priorities of children throughout the upcoming negotiations.

Over the next five years, with our members, Scottish civil society organisations and partner networks across the UK and Europe, we will work to ensure that children’s rights are protected and their voices heard – and that the implications of Brexit for our children and families is at the top of the political agenda.

Related to this is the issue of how young people can be enfranchised so that their voices always count in decisions that impact their future. We believe 16 and 17-year-olds must be given the opportunity to vote in all elections.

Under Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children and young people have the right to be heard in decisions that affect them. Realising this will require genuine political courage and a belief in the principles of participation.

The current approach to voting rights across the UK – where young people can cast their ballots in Scottish and local government elections but not take part in polls at UK level – is incoherent and completely at odds with what participation in a modern democratic society should mean.

During the campaign the Prime Minister ruled out lowering the voting age to 16, saying that being able to participate in elections is not necessary to become ‘engaged’ in politics. This was a specious argument.

Alongside concerted efforts across the UK to involve children and young people in developing policy and legislation, we want voting reform to be taken seriously. Scotland’s and the rest of the UK’s 16 and 17 year olds deserve a say in how we create a fairer society.

We know that young people’s participation can be stifled by poverty, and this can lead to disengagement from the political process. Poverty negatively affects every aspect of children and young people’s lives, from their home environment to health and education.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has forecast that UK child poverty will rise to 30.3% in 2021-22, meaning an additional one million children living in poverty. The IFS, which is politically independent, also states that ‘this increase is entirely explained by the impact of tax and benefit reforms over this [2015-17] parliament’.

In light of this, we are calling for Child Benefit to be increased and the Benefit Cap removed. If left in place, the cap will have a hugely negative impact on the lives of children, young people and their families.

Children in Scotland has consistently called for a £5 Child Benefit top-up in Scotland, which evidence from Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland suggests will contribute to a 14% reduction in child poverty.

We urge the new UK Government to acknowledge this research and implement this benefit increase across the UK."


Read our full set of calls issued in advance of the election.


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