Ed Miliband has today announced that the next Labour Government will cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, and provide additional grants for students from lower and middle income backgrounds. This will be funded by restricting Pension Tax Relief for those on the highest incomes.
Labour will build a country where the next generation can do better than the last, with tuition fees reduced to £6,000, an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the basic grades, and smaller class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year olds.
We know that the current system of tuition fees is bad for students, bad for graduates, bad for Universities and bad for the taxpayer. Let me tell you why:
The decision by the Tories and the Lib Dems to increase tuition fees to £9,000 means that the average student will now graduate with £44,000 of debt. And almost three quarters of students will never pay their loan back in full – having tens of thousands of pounds of debt hanging over them for 30 years.
That's bad for the public finances, because the taxpayer has to meet the cost of writing off the debt. By 2030-31, the current student fee system is set to add £281 billion to the national debt.
Labour's better approach is fairer for students...
- Labour will tackle spiralling student debt by cutting the tuition fee cap from £9,000 to £6,000 for all undergraduates from September 2016, and providing additional grants for students from lower-income backgrounds.
- Cutting the tuition fee cap will reduce graduate debt by nearly £9,000. Labour will also increase student grants by £400, so that the full grant increases from around £3,400 to around £3,800, benefiting all students with a household income up to £42,620. More than half of students will benefit.
... And because our policy is fully funded, it is fairer to universities and taxpayers too.
Universities will not lose out because we will increase the teaching grant they receive by around £2.7 billion, the same amount that their fee income falls.
Our plan will reduce government debt by £40 billion by 2030-31. Over the next Parliament it will mean over £10 billion less debt.
Our pledge will be funded by restricting Pension Tax Relief by £2.9 billion for those on the highest incomes.
At the moment, people with incomes over £150,000 get tax relief on pension contributions at a rate of 45 per cent – more than twice that of basic rate taxpayers. This means that although they are only the top 1 per cent of taxpayers, they receive 7 per cent of all Pension Tax Relief.
We will reduce the rate of relief for those with incomes of over £150,000 to 20 per cent – the same as basic rate taxpayers. And we will reduce the annual and lifetime allowances to cap the amount that people can put into their pensions tax free: £30,000 a year, or £1 million across a lifetime. This is far more than most people can ever afford to put into their pension pots.
Labour won't do a 'Nick Clegg'
In 2010 Nick Clegg made a promise about scrapping tuition fees he knew he wasn't going to keep if he got into government. He betrayed the people who voted for him. The decision of the Lib Dems to go back on their tuition fees pledge as well as their promise not to raise VAT or cut too far too fast is one of the biggest mistakes any political party has made in the last few decades. I still meet people who voted Lib Dem in good faith in 2010 and who feel let down. Labour won't do a Nick Clegg. We will only make promises we can keep and have laid out how we will pay for every promise.
Reaction from Plymouth Labour Students
Kieran Sharps from Plymouth Labour Students has just sent me this reaction to the announcement:
"This move by Labour is a step in the right direction for many students. I hope it will encourage more young people to look at going to university without having to worry about the financial burden. It's another reason why young people should register to vote and vote Labour on 7 May."
Let me know what you think
Leave a comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think about Labour's plan to reduce tuition fees.