Scrapping grants for poor students 'saddles our children with debt'
In her first session of Prime Minister’s Questions,Theresa May took a leaf from the Cameron/Osborne playbook, delivering the latest incantation:
‘He talks about austerity – but actually it’s about not saddling our children and grandchildren with significant debts to come.’
Two objections to this supposedly moral position come to mind.
One is the obvious but rarely stated fact that debt has soared under the Conservative Party, from 65 per cent of GDP in May 2010 to 84 per cent in May 2016, or £1.6 trillion.
Another, since it’s always the ‘children and grandchildren’ who are invoked, would be its decision to treble tuition fees to £9,000 per term, leaving the average student with £44,000 of debt – the highest in the English-speaking world.
This trend continues with the scrapping of maintenance grants for students from low-income families and their replacement with student loans.
The move, announced in George Osborne’s victory-lap summer budget last year, comes into effect today, and will add another £3,500 on to student debts.
As Sorana Vieru, vice president of the National Union of Students, correctly says:
‘It’s a disgraceful change that basically punishes poorer students simply for being poor, so they have to take a bigger loan than those students from privileged backgrounds.’
If Theresa May is serious about easing the burden on future generations, she will reverse this penny-pinching measure immediately.
Until then, her government is most definitely about ‘saddling our children and grandchildren with significant debts’.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.