Alan Whitehead

Labour MP for Southampton Test

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Young people in Southampton have been betrayed by the Tory and Lib Dem government.

From the closing of sure start centres and the trebling of tuition fees through to declining training opportunities and rising housing costs. No generation has been dealt as bad a hand by their government as young people today.

We should be investing in our young people so that they are equipped to make the most of their potential instead of having it squandered. This is not only so they can be successful for themselves, but also so our young people can build the long-term economic success our country needs.

As your MP I strongly campaigned against rising tuition fees and for more investment in the university sector. I’m therefore proud that the next Labour government will help the next generation succeed. Labour will tackle spiralling debt – averaging £44,000 for each graduate - by cutting the tuition fee cap from £9,000 to £6,000 for undergraduates from September 2016 and providing additional grants for students from lower-income backgrounds.

This will form part of Labour’s Young People’s Guarantee, including apprenticeships and a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee funded by a Bank Bonus Tax.

Cutting tuition fees isn’t just about lowering the debt of university students; it’s also about cutting our national debt. The Tory and Lib Dem government’s decision to raise tuition fees to £9,000, saddling graduates with debts which they can never pay off, has hit taxpayers too. Almost three quarters of students will never pay their loan back in full as the government’s system writes the debt off after 30 years if it’s still unpaid. If left unchecked the system will add £281 billion to the national debt by 2030. We can’t carry on with this system as it’s unfair to students, and unfair to taxpayers.

Labour decision to cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 and increase student grants will benefit both students and our country as a whole as both can go into the future knowing that we have a more sustainable and less debt-laden system.

This change will be funded by restricting pension tax relief for those on the highest incomes. And the increase in student grants will be paid for by asking the highest earning graduates to contribute a little more.

We all want our children and young people to succeed in the future. Under this government, they are being badly let down but this won’t happen under Labour. We will ensure that the next generation isn’t left behind.

Instead, Labour will ensure that all young people are equipped to fulfil their potential and succeed in the future.

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