Councillor Iain Roberts, Deputy Leader on Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council writes:
The Coalition’s Tuition Fees policy cut the cost of university for poorer graduates (but increased it substantially for the wealthiest) and has seen not only record numbers going to university, but also the highest ever number of young people from poorer backgrounds signing up. And yes, not the Lib Dems finest hour with the pledge and all that – no doubt commentators below the line will find new and interesting things to say on that topic that no-one’s thought of in the last four-and-a-bit years.
But let’s take a look at what Labour’s proposals would actually mean. First, as university vice-chancellors have been quick to point out, it would create a funding black hole – they claim £10 billion over five years.
Second, the people who would benefit are rich graduates. The new fees system is a graduate tax in all but name. It is designed so lower-paid graduates never pay back anything like the full amount. The lowest paid won’t repay a penny and the bottom third pay back less than under the old Labour scheme. Cutting fees from £9,000 to £6,000 would make no difference to them at all – they were never going to repay even half the full amount, and they’ld carry on paying the same.
The people who would benefit are the wealthiest graduates – and the richer you are, the more you would save. If you graduate and become a high-paid banker who would have repaid the full loan plus interest, you get a nice big tax cut from Mr Miliband.
And who would pay for this tax cut for the rich? Labour has two choices. They could increase tax to cover it – making us all dip into our pockets. Or they could cut services – perhaps making further cuts to welfare to help those wealthy bankers. Labour has already promised to be “tougher than the Tories” on cutting the benefits bill.
Labour’s Tuition Fees proposal is a poorly thought-out, unfunded , headline-grabbing policy that would result in a tax-cut for wealthy graduates with either tax rises or cuts in services for the poor.