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From: The Socialist issue 868, 2 September 2015: Killed by benefit cuts

Search site for keywords: Students - West London - Student - Socialist Party - Socialist - London - Education - Cuts - Transport - Young people - Pay - Parents - Inequality - Jobs - Tuition Fees - University - Higher Education - Grant - Accommodation - Austerity - Debt

Students attacked from all sides

Young women on the national anti-austerity demo, June 2015

Young women on the national anti-austerity demo, June 2015   (Click to enlarge)

Dáire Mag Shamhráin, Socialist Party West London and sixth form student

The UK's £75 billion deficit and £1.6 trillion debt were not caused by the disadvantaged, the poor, students or the working class, so why should we pay for a crisis we didn't create?

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been abolished in England. EMA was the grant paid to poorer students in further education. Former Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis, said: "There are significantly more important things to do with £20m than give young people a Christmas bonus." But it was of great benefit to working and middle class families such as mine, who struggle despite both parents working. A BBC report suggested that even with the EMA, parents earning less than £30,000 a year still struggled to support teenagers enough to enable them to stay in education past 16.


But this seems not to be enough for the Tory government, with the announcement of a 24% cut to the adult education budget in England. These cuts risk decimating further education provision, leaving new generations without. I myself am forced to look to Ireland for cheaper university fees, but this does not provide for accommodation or living costs.

Because of tuition fees students can be left with debts of up to £40,000. This may be seen as manageable by the Tories, but for students starting work it will remain a worry for years, especially when it is difficult to find jobs that pay much.

Grants not loans

Students like myself with learning disabilities such as dyslexia are entitled to Disabled Students' Allowance. But the Tories are also cutting this, placing the funding burden on individual students. These cuts will reduce access to higher education for students with disabilities thereby reducing the employment prospects for the disabled, and eventually leading to further inequality in society. These planned cuts face High Court scrutiny. But even without these cuts the inadequate loans would mean that disabled students would be left with even larger debts than other graduates at the start of their careers, making them more vulnerable.

Transport is a worry for young people as well. Where I live, Transport for London is set to make £220m in cuts, so public transport becomes less reliable. Car insurance can soar to levels of around £8,000 for young, new drivers.

Students and young people are threatened from all sides by this austerity assault. We need the trade unions, students and the working class to rally in support of student grants, not loans, and a society that is run for the benefit of all and not the interests of a few.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

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Article dated 2 September 2015

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June. Photo G Freeman

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