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What’s Onward This Week

Westminster loves a reshuffle – no matter how small. Discussion focusses on what the moves tell you about the mind of the Prime Minister, or the direction of the Government. Equally as important is whether the right people end up in the right jobs. 

Yesterday’s appointment of former Onward Advisory Board member Claire Coutinho as Energy Secretary is a strong move. Claire has experience as an advisor and Minister in multiple departments, a passion for the environment, and an eye for detail. She inherits a difficult brief, with a need to steward the Energy Bill and provide reassurance that the Government hasn’t gone cold on net zero. We hope that our reports on accelerating the delivery of renewables and grid infrastructure and creating green industrial jobs are at the top of her in-tray.

David Johnston, a member of the steering group for Onward’s Future of Conservatism project, is another solid appointment. David has been a champion of social mobility for decades, and is well positioned as Children’s Minister. One of his top priorities will be ensuring the childcare workforce and market is ready for the injection of additional subsidy announced at the last Budget. Again, we hope he has a copy of Onward’s research on Britain’s broken childcare system.

✍️ Research

Yesterday, we urged the Government to introduce a modern, civic form of national service for every 16-year-old in our new report, Great British National Service. Backed by 57% of the public and young people by three to one, cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt, Labour MP Dan Jarvis, and former MP Rory Stewart, our plan would give a generation the tools they need to succeed.

Our research shows that young people in Britain today are increasingly in crisis. Over one million people under 18 were referred to mental health services last year, and suicide rates amongst young people are the highest in over 40 years. One in five are economically inactive. They’re also three times more likely to distrust their neighbour than retirees, and a majority feel less patriotic than previous generations.

Britain’s youth are unhappy, unskilled, and unmoored. National service could give them mental resilience, skills, and a sense of belonging. Our proposal learns from similar schemes in France, Switzerland and the USA. Every 16-year-old would be automatically enrolled in the voluntary scheme unless they opt out.

They’d participate in a two-week residential programme, community service for six months alongside school or college, and an optional year-long civic initiative. As Rory Stewart says, “If done with conviction and energy,” it could be “a wonderful gift to young people and for the country.”

📰 Media Mentions

The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, LBC, Yorkshire Post, GB News, and more covered our Great British National Service report.

In his latest column for the i, Onward Director Sebastian Payne argued that national service could reengage young people who feel unhappy, unskilled and unmoored in society. 

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee spoke to Nigel Farage on GB News, Matt Chorley on Times Radio, and Tom Swarbrick on LBC about what a modern form of national service could look like. 

Senior Researcher Francois Valentin spoke to Patrick Christys on GB News, explaining why bringing back national service is popular with all voters and young people. 

The Government dropped its controversial hydrogen levy after Onward’s report Hydrogen: Who Pays? warned it could add £118 to people’s energy bills from 2030 and undermine public support for net zero. The Times, Daily Telegraph, City AM, and Daily Mail mentioned the report and quoted our Head of Energy and Climate Jack Richardson.

🌐 Onward Online

What does a modern form of national service look like? Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee tells Nigel Farage what a Great British National Service would mean for young people: 

Why are we calling for the Government to introduce a Great British National Service? Francois Valentin explains:

🗓️ Upcoming Events

Northern Caucus Launch – Richard Holden MP

The 2019 General Election was a pivotal year for the Conservative Party, breaking Labour’s monopoly over Northern England and demonstrating that Tories can win in post-industrial Britain. The North is home to almost a third of English seats, and will determine who holds the keys to Downing Street at the next election.

The Northern Caucus is a group of centre-right thinkers who are campaigning for greater representation of Northern interests in Westminster.

Sign-up to the launch of the Northern Caucus and keynote address by Roads and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden MP as we discuss how the Conservative Party can grow its electoral base in Northern England.

Date: Monday 11th September
Time: 18:30 – 22:00
Location: Central London Location 

NC Logo - Onward Newsletter 01/09/2023

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