Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs) voted to take the topics forward as their priority campaigns following their annual debate at the House of Commons on Friday.
The event, chaired by Speaker of the House John Bercow, saw almost 300 MYPs debate five topics chosen by more than 865,000 11- to 18-year-olds during UK Youth Parliament’s eight-week Make Your Mark ballot this summer.
At the end of the event, Bercow revealed that ensuring everyone receives at least a living wage level of pay had received 156 votes – ahead of votes at 16 (117) – and would be taken forward as UK Youth Parliament’s UK-wide campaign.
Set at £7.85 an hour nationally and £9.15 an hour in London, the living wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation as the amount of income needed to meet the basic costs of living.
He then revealed that improving mental health services had received 167 votes, ahead of work experience (78) and exam resits in maths and English (33), meaning it would become UK Youth Parliament’s devolved campaign for 2015. The issue will be campaigned for separately across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Minister for civil society Rob Wilson watched the debate and praised the young people involved for their passion and enthusiasm.
He said: “You have debated these issues at length and it has been fascinating – and at times electric – to watch. You should be very proud.
“It’s more important than ever that young people enter the adult world equipped, informed and ready to engage with the democratic process.
“As minister for civil society I will champion the contribution young people make to society and I will continue to ensure that your voices are heard in Whitehall and beyond.”
Last year, MYPs voted to campaign on votes at 16 and a curriculum for life.