A ST Helens MP has spoken out against Tory plans to scrap maintenance grants for students.
Conor McGinn, the Labour MP for St Helens North, described the grants as “vital support for students from lower income backgrounds” ahead of a debate and vote on the subject in the House of Commons.
The Government announced its plans to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds and replace them with additional loans last year.
But Labour says this change would mean that the poorest 40 per cent of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, will impact on students studying at further education colleges.
The party has accused the Conservatives of attempting to force the “sweeping changes” through in committee rather than on the floor of the House of Commons, hidden away from public scrutiny.
Conor McGinn said: “Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from lower income backgrounds from St Helens North, and ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts that their more privileged peers. But this could change if the Tories force through their plans.
“I have been in touch with student representatives from Edge Hill University and St Helens College who have expressed their concerns about the impact this will have locally.
“The Government’s own assessment shows that these cuts will have a disproportionate effect on disabled people, women, older learners and people from industrial areas like St Helens”
“The government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential.
“This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.”
Labour will hold a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government and try and halt their decision to scrap maintenance grants for loans
Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Instead of investing in future generations the Tories are betraying students and making life harder for people from the poorest backgrounds, who would leave university with substantially higher debts than their better-off peers under these plans.
“Targeting those who are working hard and doing the right thing to better their lot in life leaves the Tories’ claim to back those who want to get on in tatters.
“The Tories have shown yet again that they’re governing from the shadows, trying to force through the sweeping changes in committee hoping that no one would notice.”