Poll of young people puts Brexit at the top of list of concerns

Young anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at the gates of Downing Street. Isabel Infantes/PA.

Young anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at the gates of Downing Street. Isabel Infantes/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A new poll of 16 to 24-year-olds has found that they believe the UK leaving the European Union is the biggest concern facing their generation.

The survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the charity Barnardo's found that 62% of young people polled considered Brexit a top concern, just ahead of climate change, which was an issue for 54% of people polled. A quarter put the economy as a concern.

The charity's 'Overcoming the Poverty of Hope' report also reveals that 62% of 16-24-year-olds feel the government cares more about older generations than their own.

The research found that two thirds (67%) believe their generation will be worse off than their parents, with more than a third (35%) saying they felt negative about their future.

The main reasons they gave for this were a lack of jobs or careers, money and financial worries, and high house prices.

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While only 15% think their generation will have worse physical health and life expectancy than their parents, 69% believe they will have worse happiness or good mental health.

Harry Scott, 16, from North Shields, attends the BASE in Whitley Bay, a youth support service run by Barnardo's. He said: "I think we're probably going to be worse off than our parents - with housing and jobs, because of the focus on Brexit there's a lack of moving forward with the times.

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"I'm hopeful but I'm not convinced about the job security. With the technology evolving all the time it's hard for jobs to be secure because there's so much change that will only accelerate and certain jobs will become obsolete. I want to join the police force, but they might not be recruiting as the numbers are going down with all public services being cut."

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "While material poverty is part of the problem, many children and young people today also feel there is little or no possibility of a positive future, what we call a 'poverty of hope'.

"The voices of young people are missing from debates about the challenges facing the country. They feel ignored by society and decision makers who are focussed on the concerns of older generations.

"Collectively, we can help young people overcome this poverty of hope by believing in them, nurturing their talents, providing opportunities, knocking down barriers, and listening to them when it comes to decisions that affect their futures."

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