Paying For It runs the Chance to be a Chancellor competition, which is an interactive online challenge that encourages young people between the ages of 14 and 18 to create their own budgets. From the online challenge, participants submit their budgets to be entered to become Youth Chancellor. I attended the event where the runners-up were honoured, and this year’s Youth Chancellor, Priyesh Patel, presented the 2011 Youth Budget to Sir Nicolas Macpherson – Permanent Secretary to the Treasury. After, there was a panel discussion about the economy with questions from the young people in the audience.
The event was really stimulating and it was great to hear how well informed these young people are about the economy. I was able to speak to some of them during the reception following the event and I was impressed with their passion and what they had learned. The young people that I talked to all participated in the competition independently, ie not through their school. Joel, from Gaynes School in year 9, said that he learned, ‘You can’t please everyone, everyone has their own opinions…I gained knowledge on how hard it is to run a country and what amounts of money are going into different things.’ I believe he summed up the main issues the country faces with cutting the deficit and creating a budget.
The other young people I spoke to were interested in studying subjects like economics, finance, law, and maths. I talked to a lot of them about what they focused on in their budgets and there was a consensus that education and healthcare should be a priority in spending. However, they also had varying opinions on other things that should be cut and why. For example, Daniel from Gaynes School in year 9 said, ‘I lowered the spending for Defence, because I feel that due to our connections and the country we are, we will be protected from outside threats…we do have the UN and NATO, who act as global police, so I think there is no real need for a large part of the budget to go to Defence.’