TO mark the launch of Institute of Public Policy North’s State of the North 2017 report, a roundtable was held at the University of Huddersfield which brought together ‘Millennial’ and ‘Generation Z’ citizens from across the North of England to discuss their hopes and concerns for the future of the Northern Powerhouse.
Students from the universities of Huddersfield and Manchester and also Manchester College were joined by young people from the Greater Manchester Youth Combined Authority, Reclaim, and the TUC. The event was chaired by IPPR North chair, Ed Cox. It was organised in collaboration with Dr Andy Mycock, Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield, and saw participants discuss a range of topics covered in the report, from Brexit to automation.
Participants said that they felt that the biggest challenges facing the North of England are transport, a lack of professional jobs, and education.
Of particular concern was the UK government’sdisproportionate focus on transport in the South and London which meant that travelling around the North of England was time-consuming and often difficult. Concerns were also raised about future job prospects and the potential of having to work longer before retirement than previous generations. The lack of availability and cost of housing was also discussed. The group also highlighted the potential economic benefits of building an environmentally-sustainable North.
Participants noted that young people feel powerless and unable to make a difference within the political establishment. The group agreed that the generational divide that emerged during the EU referendum campaign has endured, with many young people feeling overlooked in discussions about Brexit. One participant said that ‘Manchester and Liverpool have a big megaphone in their metro mayors’ whereas other parts of the North were not being represented as strongly in the debate around Brexit.
The young people stated their desire to be directly involved in the decision-making process. There was widespread agreement that there was considerable potential to build on a recent Northern Powerhouse project which brought youth councils and other youth representative organisations across the North of England to agree a youth manifesto. Crucially, they discussed mechanisms through which they could take control of the future of the Northern Powerhouse, in response to the recommendation that the North become a ‘leading federal state in a world-leading federal nation’.
It was also agreed that a Young Peoples’ Assembly should be considered as part of plans to establish a Council for the North. It was also suggested that a young members’ representative should be co-opted on to the board of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
Dr Andy Mycock, Reader in Politics, commented: “We were pleased to welcome the IPPR North to the University to launch this important report which rightly places young people at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.”
“The roundtable highlighted that many young people are engaged and interested in debates about the future of the North. The University of Huddersfield works extensively with organisations across the North of England to encourage youth democratic education and participation,” he added.