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Student Grants

Volume 129: debated on Tuesday 15 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what adjustment will be made to the level of student grants, in view of the Government's poll tax proposals.

Students' liability to pay 20 per cent. of the community charge will be taken into account in reaching decisions on the future level of student support from public funds. Grant rates for the 1988–89 academic year have already been announced and the Government have no plans to make any adjustment to them.

Since students will be liable to pay at least 20 per cent. of the poll tax, which in some areas will amount to more than £100 a year, will the Minister give an absolute guarantee that students will be fully recompensed by an appropriate increase in their grant? Is he aware that, otherwise, many students will respond to the poll tax demand simply by telling the Government, "We can't pay, so we won't pay"? Who could blame them for refusing to stump up for a blatantly unjust tax which is an attack on the living standards of students and most other people in Britain?

The decision to extend an 80 per cent. relief to all students for their share of expenditure from which they benefit has already been made. The question whether there should be compensation for the 20 per cent. obligation is one that remains to be dealt with. Meanwhile, in Scotland, for one term, it will be necessary for students to pay their contribution to the community charge.