The Labour Party, if elected, will bring back maintenance grants in a bid to support university students financially. The grants, initially intended to help the poorest students, were scrapped by George Osborne in his final budget.
Labour believes that the new policy will support over a million students and will be paid for by increasing corporation tax by less than 1.5%.
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “It is only by investing in education that we can ensure that all of our young people, whatever their background, are able to succeed in whatever they aspire to.”
At their core maintenance grants help further equality of opportunity among students and prevent financial pressure becoming an emotional burden for graduates; and a barrier for the development of skills and talent.
Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK CIC says: “In recent weeks we have heard that student debt levels are averaging at more than a third of the average mortgage. A recent study by the University of Southampton and Solent NHS showed those who were more stressed about graduate debt had higher levels of stress and depression.
We also know that for many young people the cost of further and higher education can be a real barrier. Helping young people to access education opportunities supports their long term skill development and can open up wider opportunities in the long-term and increase social mobility.”
There is a genuine need to consider the negative emotional impact high levels of student debt can have on current and future graduates. Policies such as maintenance grants help to reduce this debt for the poorest students and alleviate stress. Moreover, enterprises focusing on bringing new talent into their workforce have an interest in supporting both equality of opportunity and social mobility for British students; it helps them find the right person for the role, and also allows greater skills development for their would-be employee. With maintenance grants, everybody wins.
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