This house would introduce compulsory community service for students between the ages of 9 and 11
Task: Set up this Debate with you family or school friends. You can use the information below as a starting place to think of your own arguments!
Some time ago, it was declared that Britain is a broken society. Many experts said that we no longer have a sense of community.
Over a decade, volunteering has fallen by 15% – this has meant charities have lost millions of hours of volunteers’ time. Figures show that people in the UK only volunteered for 1.93 billion hours in 2015, compared to 2.28 billion hours in 2005. A tiny number of those hours is time volunteered by children.
With the division between generations widening, and fewer young people feeling the need to give back to their communities, Debate Mate are asking whether we should introduce compulsory community service for students between the ages of 9 and 11.
Each year, during the summer, young people are on holiday from school for a minimum of 6 weeks. Much of this time is spent relaxing and playing – perhaps this could be put to better use by doing three weeks of working to help to their local communities?
What is community service?
Community service is non-paid work done for the benefit, or good, of the local area. This is similar to volunteering, but sometimes people are forced to do community service as a punishment for small crimes.
Typically, community service includes tasks like helping the homeless, cleaning up the local area or visiting elderly people who are lonely. The activities this involves, and how much choice children have in what they have to do, are for the Proposition team to decide on and define in this debate.
Introducing compulsory community service would mean changing the law so that all students between the ages of 9 and 11 must give up their time to either carry out some of the duties listed above or a different type of community service.
Will students pick up skills?
Community service can build a range of different skills depending on what a child is doing. Perhaps visiting lonely pensioners could teach young people to be more caring. Maybe picking up litter and cleaning graffiti will help young people take pride in their local area. However, can children really gain these skills if they don’t want to be there in the first place? How useful will the community service be for these children and what will they really learn?
What will happen to youths that don’t do community service?
This is also for the proposition to decide and define. It could be anything from detention, to summer school, or even a cash fine they would have to pay.
Would this create a better sense of togetherness?
Often, young people rarely interact with adults who aren’t family members or their teachers. Community service could introduce them to people from all walks of life, who they wouldn’t otherwise meet, and allow them to feel a stronger sense of community spirit. The question is, can they be open enough to benefit from those new relationships if they don’t want to be there – or will they just be grumpy the whole time? People often say that young people don’t care about their local community – they accuse them of dropping litter, graffitiing and other bad behaviour. Is this an opportunity for the older generation to see a positive side to children, or will some children misbehave so older people continue to think ALL children are naughty? The government makes us do things that we may not want to do, when they believe that it is good for society. Is community spirit enough of a reason for the government to force children to do community service, or should it be up to the children to volunteer if they want to? Should children have the right to choose how they spend their own free time during their holidays?
Could this be a way to solve some of our social problems?
While councils have less money to spend, could compulsory (or forced) community service be a good way to solve social problems? It could be argued that the time that children spend doing community service will ease the burden on councils. However, who will pay to run the programme, and will the children be able to do a good job? In some other countries, national service – like community service but for adults – is used to fill up jobs that are needed but under-staffed. For example, in countries such as Germany and Nigeria, 18-year-olds do national service to help with things such as healthcare and education. Does this mean that these children could be taking away jobs from adults?
What about the parents?
Each summer, parents have to arrange for babysitters, summer clubs or take time off work to make sure that their children are looked after. Could community service be a helpful, low cost alternative to this? But, who will get the children to and from their community service every day, and is this even more work for their parents?
This House Would Introduce A Universal Basic Income
Task: Set up this Debate with you family or school friends. You can use the proposition and opposition points below as a starting place for your own arguments!
Throughout history, lots of different thinkers have come up with ideas of what society should or could look like. One of these ideas is about introducing a Universal Basic Income. Universal Basic Income is pretty much what it sounds like! It’s the idea that every citizen should be given a basic amount of money by the government, regardless of what they do. Every person or household would get the same amount, and their payments would be unconditional. This means it doesn’t matter whether you have a job, or what you do with your days, you would still get a basic amount of money from the government no matter what.
Why are some people asking for it?
There have been calls for Universal Basic Income from many different people, with lots of different kinds of political beliefs. The conversation around UBI has come up again recently, as so many people are struggling financially as they aren’t able to work during the current coronavirus crisis. Even though the government have put measures in place to help businesses pay people, and allow self-employed people to apply for government grants, there are so many people who earn money in so many different ways (like zero-hours contracts) or have lost their jobs because of coronavirus, that some critics are saying it might be better and easier for the government to introduce a Universal Basic Income for this period.
UBI would provide simple financial security to everyone in times of crisis. This means that in the event of global crises (like this one) or even personal crisis like losing your job, or your car or boiler breaking down, everyone would have a fixed amount of money that they could rely on to get them through that period. This would also probably increase wellbeing as it means people wouldn’t be worried about not having enough money to feed themselves or their families in times of crisis.
It would be a more efficient form of eradicating poverty than benefits. Introducing UBI would get rid of a lot of the administration costs that currently come with government benefits. It is a long process for people to apply and go through checks for benefits, which in turn, costs the government a lot of money in additional wages for staff. Because UBI is provided to everyone it is fuss-free which reduces stress on individuals and takes pressure off already stretched government departments.
UBI gives workers the security to wait for another job or ask for more pay and protection. At the moment, many employers are able to take advantage of workers because they don’t have any other options. Companies like Amazon treat some of their factory workers very badly, paying them below living wage even though they are often at risk of workplace injuries, and sometimes not making sure there is transport to and from the places they work! The problem is, many workers aren’t in a position to ask for more money or get a different job, because they are afraid of losing their current job and not being able to pay the rent. UBI gives people security, which means they can ask for better working standards without worrying about losing their job. This would make people happier and could lead to better rights for working people.
It could stop people from wanting to work. At the moment, money is linked to the idea of hard work. If you give people money when they haven’t worked for it, and tell them that they will get that money no matter what then people may want to stop working. This would devalue the idea of ‘hard work’ in society, and also mean that many important jobs may stop being done, because people can get money anyway.
It’s a waste of money, because not everyone needs it. At the moment, people receive benefits if they aren’t able to work or they need them to support family members. If Universal Basic Income was introduced it would go to everyone, even people who have more than enough money and don’t need it at all. This could be seen as a waste of government money, because even multi-millionaires are getting given money that could be spent elsewhere.
It can be spent on anything. A lot of benefits are conditional, so the government will check that you need it, and will check that you are actively looking for work. If the government give people money unconditionally, it means that they can’t check that people are behaving responsibly or spending their money well. This means that people may choose not to work, and spend their money on fun activities. It could even be spent on unhealthy foods or alcohol, which isn’t what government money should be spent on. This could instead be spent on things like developing transport or the NHS instead of what individual people want!