A number of constituents have been voicing their concern over the new hike in tuition fees.
I can empathise with students’ worries about shouldering massive debts at the start of their working lives and this issue deserves serious attention. However, assurance is at hand that the government’s new measures won’t ruin young people’s futures.
Graduates will only start to feel adverse affects of the increased fees if they earn more than £21,000 a year. Previously, the threshold at which students were expected to pay back their loans was £15,000, so graduates under our new system will have the potential to become six thousand pounds a year richer before they have to pay a penny back. Nobody should feel any sudden pinch of hardship from this move and I see no reason whatsoever for poorer students to be discouraged from going to university.
We have a £155bn deficit in our budget and our national services are in serious jeopardy. I asked David Cameron to guarantee that the Fleet Air Arm will receive the Helicopters it is due, and I have also supported the prison system in the wake of Ken Clarke’s plans to let 3000 inmates walk free by 2015. All the essential aspects of our society are still affordable if we spread the cost to those who can afford it. Poorer graduates are being protected by our measures to a greater extent than they were before, while wealthy graduates with good earning potential will shoulder a greater share of our national debt. As I recently told some members of a young sports initiative based in the constituency, we have no option but to put upright, capable young people on the front line.
Any government which cares for national welfare would do this. The only other option is to carry on borrowing and building up more and more debt. This approach has been tried and tested and is the reason that the citizens of Zimbabwe face a considerably bleaker 2011 than us.
I am confident that our policies will allow us to protect universities and their graduates as well as maintain core public services and heat the homes of the elderly this winter.
And on that note, I would like to wish the Gainsborough constituency a very happy Christmas.