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Improving London to meet the aspirations, needs, and rights of young people

PfYL - levelling up London for young people
PfYL - levelling up London for young people

A new report from Partnership for Young London, with funding from Trust for London, looks at the relationship between the levelling up agenda and young Londoners. Here the report's author Matthew Walsham, shares the reasons behind the work and some of the most important findings.

Young Londoners are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis, with a lack of affordable housing and increasing prices of everyday essentials. Despite this, they have aspirations, personal and professional, that they want to achieve to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. There is an urgent need to tackle the barriers to these aspirations, and make London a better city to live in for young Londoners. However, young Londoners remain absent from the Levelling Up White paper, with London often presented as a benchmark of prosperity, with their needs and priorities neither acknowledged nor addressed.

We wanted to look at how young Londoners understood the Levelling Up agenda, but also how they feel about inequality in their city, their aspirations for London and themselves, and how represented they feel in the political conversation. Firstly, we designed a survey that went out to over 1,200 young Londoners between August and September 2022. We found that the overwhelming majority of them (95.1%) agree that there is a cost-of-living crisis in London and that while more than half (58.1%) want to continue living here, only one in four (26.4%) think they will be able to afford to do so.

Secondly, we conducted focus groups where young Londoners were provided the survey data to think about what the key findings were, but also to hear their lived experiences and stories behind the data points. We also worked with the Mayor’s Peer Outreach Team to design their own “Left Behind Areas” formula, which better reflects the inequalities faced across the country with the inclusion of poverty data.

Lastly, we conducted an analysis of manifestos and pledges published by all the major political parties in London’s local election in 2022, interviewing two political assistants to two different political parties about this process. We wanted to see how young people are represented during local elections, and how they are involved in that important policymaking process. Young Londoners overwhelmingly (88.4%) want to be involved in the planning, design, and decision-making of their city, but often are left out due to a lack of clarity about the opportunities for influencing local manifestos.

Following on from this work we will be developing policy solutions designed with peer researchers focusing on how peer research with young people can shape policy and practice across London. This will start with a launch of several youth-led research projects in June, with roundtable debates with young Londoners and other key stakeholders on how this data and insight informs future practice across the region across summer. As peer research becomes a more popular way to include the voices of young people in policymaking, we are keen to track where and how it has made an impact and gather case studies from across the sector. Please get in touch with Matthew Walsham to be part of the work.

Find out more about the work here.

Levelling up London - Partnership for Young London - March 2023