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Simon Hughes appointed as Advocate for Access to Education

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Thursday 30 December 2010 3.20pm
Oh, a seat at the table! For a month at least. The fact that he accepted should sicken everyone who took any hope that LibDems could learn from the real opposition to the Coalition onslaught on Education. If the top dogs offered this, then they were genuinely shaken at the strength of that opposition. Simon Hughes just ensured there will be no real change. Just a face saving trickle of comfort to a few. If you were aiming to be a mature student don't wait for a grain of comfort from this lot. Thanks for being my MP Simon, thanks...
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Friday 31 December 2010 1.17pm
Any alternative proposals for funding tertiary education, greatly received.
Maybe we could continue to expect bus drivers et al to pay taxes to fund middle class kids to spend three years at 'Uni', maybe we could restrict access to the few, or maybe we can down grade the quality of our degrees? I'd like those who are considering college to be aware that someone has to pay for it. Graduates earn more, it is right that they should pay for what they have got. The baby boomers had it all on a plate - those days are gone.
Students don't pay fees, graduates pay them. For the first time now there will be a loan system for part time studies, opening the door for those of us working and studying.
Friday 31 December 2010 3.38pm

Just out of interest, how was your education paid for?

You asked for some alternative ideas. Here's some:
a) Use the same system under which most of the cabinet and, I presume, Simon Hughes went to university. I was at Oxford with lots of them and it seemed a perfectly good system. Withdrawing it, having benefited from it strikes me as immoral.
b) Possibly restrict access to universities more. Maybe have cheaper, vocational universities, without a research requirement. Perhaps we could call them polytechnics.
c) Yes - continue to pay for it out of general taxation, with everyone benefiting, in the same way that I, although currently fit and childless, contribute to the bus driver's children's education, his or her mum's medical care and, probably, his or her housing benefit.

Your anecdotal bus driver's children can benefit from it by being able to go to university without running up massive debts. And I will benefit from their contribution to society when they take their place in the workforce. It's what being in a society is about.

By virtue of the grants given to me to enable me to go to university, I earn a lot more than most of the people I went to comprehensive school with and, consequently, pay a lot more in tax.

d) Raise inheritance tax rates, lower thresholds and close the loopholes that enable the wealthy to avoid it. Use the money raised to invest in the future of our society. While we're at it, we might want to introduce capital gains tax on the principal residence to close more loopholes, dampen future upward volatility in the housing market, and make it more worthwhile to invest in properly productive assets rather than bricks and mortar.

You're welcome. What do you reckon?


ps I'm not normally lost for words, but Simon Hughes' collaboration with the Tory cuts almost leaves me so.
Friday 31 December 2010 5.11pm
Spot on Phil, not a trace of a ramble either.
I was too saddened by Graham's selfish bus driver to reply sooner.
Happy New Year, Clive
Friday 31 December 2010 9.29pm
My education - most of it state paid, currently getting a loan towards my degree. Seems like the baby boomers got free tertiary education, cheap homes, jobs for life and nice pensions - how times have changed!
Are there three elements, to degrees: free access, popular access, and quality, can we have all three?
As for raising inheritance tax, increasing thresholds, putting resources into stopping evasion, and changes to Capital Gains Tax it's happening.
I think the movement toward a rentier economy may slowing too.
Monday 3 January 2011 3.39pm
Hi Graham, sorry about the loan. We campaigned hard against their introduction in late 80s, but couldn't win that one. I think you're probably right about the need for trade-offs in the three aspects of education that you identify.

Not all of the baby boomers got all of the things you mentioned, but I think you're right that the subsequent generations will find it harder.

I've not seen any moves to tax wealth more, nor to encourage investment, and the government seems to be more interested in cracking down on benefit fraud than tax fraud.

You mentioned changes to inheritance tax. Since October 2007, married couples and registered civil partners can effectively increase the threshold on their estate when the second partner dies - to as much as 650,000 in 2010-11. There's been no change to the rates paid either. This makes inheritance tax even less progressive.

Thanks to NI, unearned income continues to be taxed at a lower rate than earned income.

I hope you're right about a move away from the rentier economy, but it's not in the interests of those in power, and I've not seen any evidence of it. What have you spotted?
Monday 3 January 2011 5.47pm
Hi P
I hope you had a great new year, apols to those here wanting to discuss more 'local' issues.
I went in to the loan/college thing with open eyes, prepared to contribute directly for what may help raise my income, and certainly broaden my horizons (and get access to a great library).
Positive funding suggestions from Labour are few, possibly because of their 2001 manifesto:
'We will not introduce 'top-up' fees and have legislated to prevent them' .
Check HPC for analysis of why investment in residential property may not be ideal for medium term.
Coalition 'money' achievements in eight months can be seen here
I'll be meeting regularly this year with S Hughes, as part of my brief and I want to see we get a decent run at education. I think Simon is on board to make sure it happens - time will tell.
I'm happy to answer any pm questions, or put any questions to SH.
This year's resolution is to use my blog to write about all this stuff.

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