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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 11/11/2020 - 00:07

On this page
  1. Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy
  4. Monitoring and evaluation
  5. Revisions/ Updates

Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation

In December 2017, the Government launched a five-year democratic engagement plan, to increase democratic engagement across all groups. The Plan does make specific provisions to increase youth participation and civic engagement. 

Additionally, the Government launched National Democracy Week, which takes place annually. National Democracy Week, is to celebrate democracy and raise awareness about the UK’s democratic process and institutions to excluded groups, those who face barriers to participation and less likely to be registered. Democracy Week is seen as a focal point for action for young people and as part of 2019’s Democracy Week a toolkit has been developed.  The toolkit contains high quality, easy to use activities that have been co-developed with young people and Parliamentarians from different parties, and is non partisan. In 2019, a youth engagement toolkit for elected and non-elected officials was also published, aimed at engaging 13 to 16 year old’s in democratic activities. Rock Enrol! is another initiative, in the form of an interactive resource pack, designed to encourage young people to register to vote.

The Government’s programmes and initiatives are designed to create a social action journey for young people. The elements of this, include the #iwill social action campaign and the National Citizen Service, both of which aim to provide young people with skills for citizenship and community engagement, and which could be considered as a facilitator of political and civil society participation. These, and other initiatives, are dealt with in ‘National Programme for Youth Volunteering’.


Scope and contents

Democratic Engagement Plan 

The Government’s Democratic Engagement Plan, Every Voice Matters: Building A Democracy That Works For Everyone, was published in 2017. It sets out the government’s five year plan, of how it plans to build a democracy that works for everyone. The Plan outlines how the government will tackle democratic exclusion and increase participation among under-registered groups. The plan will be implemented from 2017 to 2022.  

It’s strategy includes:

  • building on records of voter registration and identifying what more there is to do,
  • encouraging participation to make British democracy more inclusive,
  • launching National Democracy Week (see below for more information), and 
  • identifying barriers that specific underrepresented, and under-registered groups face. 

Under-registered groups include: 

  • overseas voters, 
  • black and minority ethnics,
  • frequent movers and renters,
  • young people, and
  • those with mental health conditions or disabilities.

National Democracy Week 

The Government launched National Democracy Week, which will take place annually. Its inaugural week took place in July 2018. The aim of National Democracy Week, is to celebrate democracy and raise awareness about the UK’s democratic process and institutions, specifically engaging, under-registered groups, excluded groups, and those who face barriers to participation. 

The delivery and organisation of the week is a collaborative effort between the National Democracy Week Council Members, the Cabinet Office, and other networks and organisations. A list of the groups can be found on the GOV.UK site

It sits alongside the Democratic Engagement Plan. See above for more information.

Responsible authority for the implementation of the strategy

The responsible authority for implementation is described where the programme / strategy is mentioned above, if applicable.

Monitoring and evaluation

The responsible authority for monitoring and evaluation is described where the programme / strategy is mentioned above, if and where applicable.


Civil Society Strategy: Building a Future that Works for Everyone 


In August 2018, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published their Civil Society Strategy, which emphasised the value of youth participation in politics and civil society, and the Government’s commitment to increasing youth participation.  

The Strategy sets out plans to strengthen the foundations of social value and other long-term ambitions and plans. It emphasises the five foundations of society: people, places, social sector, private sector and public sector.

The Strategy acknowledges the importance and value of youth participation in politics and civil society, and outlines the Government’s plans to increase youth participation. Upon the advice of DCMS, the government’s future plans involves systematically changing specifics stage in the policy cycle, particularly, policy design and implementation, to include young people. This will ensure young people’s voices are communicated and heard across sectors and government departments and structures regarding issues affecting them. There has been no announcement or establishment of a timeframe to implement this. 

DCMS also has plans to set up a series of initiatives to facilitate in youth participation and democracy, in their department, this includes:

  • a Civil Society Youth Steering Group; whose responsibility will be to oversee policies affect young people; and
  • a National Young Commissioners and Inspectors Group; whose responsibilities will include commissioning, monitoring and evaluating programmes and policies that affect young people. 
  • With respect to future policy, the government will build systems to ensure that young people both have their views heard and are able to play a role in delivery. As a first step, new digital solutions will be explored to enable large numbers of young people to play a role in consultations and programme design across the government.

As part of the commitments to the Civil Society Strategy, in February 2019 DCMS launched new youth voice projects. The projects meet three commitments from the Civil Society Strategy to encourage young people to participate in making national policy and will include a Youth Steering Group; A Young Inspectors Group; and Digital Youth engagement research. The projects will be delivered by a consortium of youth organisations led by the British Youth Council and will run as pilots until March 2020. 

30 young people from across England will be recruited for the Youth Groups to be involved in policy development and the monitoring and evaluation of national programmes. Regional partners will be targeting those with little or no youth voice experience and from seldom heard groups such as young carers and children in care to take part. The Digital Youth engagement research project will explore how digital methods can be used to engage young people in policy making. The project will be led by The Mix, a charity which offers support to young people under 25, providing support and helping the young people design a digital tool that could be used in future to engage more young people in how policy is made.