Sunak insists he has not given up on young voters amid pensioner tax breaks

Rishi Sunak has insisted he has not given up on winning young people’s votes after he was quizzed about the contrast between his election offer for pensioners and youngsters.

The Prime Minister wants to introduce a new form of national service for 18-year-olds, which would see them join the armed forces or take part in public service volunteering over the course of a year.

State pensioners are meanwhile being offered a tax break, with an increase in their income tax personal allowance which would give them a cut worth around £95 in 2025-26, rising to £275 in 2029-30.

Rishi Sunak during a visit to a pottery factory in Stoke On Trent
Rishi Sunak during a visit to a pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent (Aaron Chown/PA)

The move is seen as a bid to shore up Tory support from older voters who did not benefit from cuts to national insurance at the budget and autumn statement.

Reporters speaking to Mr Sunak on the election trail in Staffordshire pointed to the Renters Reform Bill being scrapped, and a duty to complete national service as measures likely to put younger voters off supporting him.

But he defended his plans and insisted they would be “transformative” for young people.

He told reporters: “I think providing young people – regardless of their background, where they’re from, where they live – with the opportunities that national service will provide, the skills that it will give them later in life, will be hugely positive for them.

“And at the same time, foster a culture of service in our country that will make our societies more cohesive, and strengthen our security and resilience as a country.”

The Tory leader said he would choose the military rather than the volunteering option.

He told The Daily T podcast: “I would do the military one. And it’s actually one of my regrets that I didn’t do more of it when I was younger, and it’s one of the great privileges in this job to spend more time with our armed forces. That’s what I would do now.”

On his campaign trip, he also claimed his daughters were keener on his pledge to bring in national service for young people than they were about his previous school maths plans.

“I think my daughters are definitely more excited than they were when I announced maths to 18,” the Prime Minister said during his visit to Churchill China, a ceramics company in Stoke-on-Trent.

“Look, I’m a dad, right. And so I do this first and foremost as a dad, knowing full well that if I’m successful, my daughters will do it.

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(PA Graphics)

“And I’m really excited for them to do it. And lots of people do volunteering without this but I think doing it in this way – something that the whole country, a whole generation, does together – will be transformative.”

The new pensions policy would cost £2.4 billion a year by 2029/30 and would be funded by clamping down on tax dodgers – the same pot of money which would help pay for Mr Sunak’s plan for mandatory national service for 18-year-olds.

The national service scheme is costed at a similar amount, £2.5 billion.