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What’s Onward This Week

10 cities and regions in England will vote for a new directly-elected mayor in less than a week — a far cry from 14 years ago when only London benefitted from devolution. While some mayors are seeking a third term, three places are electing one for the first time. 

While pundits inevitably think about these races in Westminster terms, voters increasingly appreciate the difference, with Andy Street and Ben Houchen outperforming their party in the polls and Sadiq Khan seemingly behind his. It’s a growing healthy dynamic that means – at last – local democracy is showing signs of revival.

✍️ Research

Calls to ban smartphones and social media for young people and children are making headlines again, with the Government reportedly considering a more draconian crackdown. 

Onward’s research shows the impact our online culture has on young people. Our paper, The Kids Aren’t Alright, found that over a third of young adults have more friends online than in real life and spend over four hours playing video games or on social media. More recently, Great British National Service revealed that 16-24-year-olds are twice as likely to feel lonely. And as far back as 2019, Onward argued for phone-free schools

As Onward Director Sebastian Payne told Times Radio this week, smartphones and social media distract children in the classroom, eroding their social skills and driving loneliness. It’s an issue that’s not going away and demands more action from parents, schools and social media companies. 

📰 Media Mentions

Onward’s Director Sebastian Payne wrote in the i about why Sadiq Khan’s hyperbole language shows the inflation of political invective in election debates.

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee outlines a plan to boost state capacity in CityAM

Onward’s Phoebe Arslanagić-Little spoke to The Telegraph about why parents need a new deal. 

Nick Timothy, Chair of Onward’s Future of Conservatism, argued in the Daily Telegraph that Britain must ditch its old failing economic consensus.

🌐 Onward Online

Senior Researcher Callum Newton discussed development corporations at NextGen Tories debate on housing.

Why is one corner of Italy denying the country’s birth rate decline? Onward’s Phoebe Arslanagić-Little explains.

🗓️ Upcoming Events

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Strong digital connectivity is essential to fully participate in today’s economy. Significant progress has been made on broadband connections and mobile coverage in rural areas over the last decade. But for too many rural households and businesses, the lack of quality digital infrastructure continues to hinder productivity and cut people off from society. 

Several initiatives aim to close the rural connectivity gap. The Shared Rural Network is helping to deliver 4G coverage across the countryside, while the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy aims to provide nationwide 5G coverage by 2030, including in rural areas. And the Government also targets supplying 1.5 million more rural premises with gigabit broadband by the end of next year. 

This event, led by the DEFRA Secretary Steve Barclay MP, will bring together a panel of experts to debate how the private and public sector can work together to enhance digital connectivity for rural communities to help boost their economies.  

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Wednesday 22nd May

Time: 14:00- 15:00

Location: Central Westminster 
To sign up for this event, please click here.

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Onward After Hours is our event series for under 35s, connecting the next generation of centre-right political thinkers. These events bring together journalists, special advisers, parliamentary staffers and more, to inspire fresh thinking and build connections.  

This evening will be a great opportunity for a casual drink and a chance to discuss the policy agenda and what matters most for young voters.

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Tuesday 21st May

Time: 18:00- 20.30

Location: Central Westminster 
To sign up for this event, please click here.

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