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27 February 2015

Labour will cut fees from £9k to £6k, the party pledges

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls attack the coalition's fees model for betraying young people and piling billions onto the national debt, and pledge to reduce the headline fee by £3,000

By Stephen Bush

Labour will reduce tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, the party has announced. In addition, the maintenance grant will rise by £4,00 to £3,800 for families paying the basic rate of income tax. Significantly, the policy will apply to students already at university, increasing its vote-winning potential.

Ed Miliband believes that the current system is both unsustainable – it is piling £16bn extra worth of debt to the public finances every year and will have added £281 bn worth to the national debt by 2030,  according to Labour analysis – and betrays what he calls the “promise of Britain”, that “the next generation would do better than the last”.

In a speech that binds together the coalition’s cuts to SureStart, benefit reforms and the rise in tuition fees, Ed Miliband will said:

“What has happened over the last five years is more than just a betrayal of election promises, it is a betrayal of an entire generation: a betrayal from their first steps to the time when they stride into the world of work; a betrayal from nursery to school, from college to university, a betrayal to the jobs or homes they hope to have afterwards – and even on their ability to vote.”

He revisited the “promise of Britain” idea, saying:

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“This used to be a country where it was almost taken for granted that the next generation would do better than the last. This was the Promise of Britain. Now we are a country where it is almost taken for granted they will do worse.

Ed Balls, also in attendance, added:

“This government’s system is not only bad for students it’s bad for the public finances too. Students are graduating with a bigger burden of debt and our zero-based review has exposed how it is leading to higher national debt too.”

The presence of the Shadow Chancellor – who has been rumoured to harbour doubts about the wisdom of the policy  – highlights Labour’s unity on the issue in the face of attacks both from business and vice-chancellors, and, removing that distraction from the discussion of a policy that Labour believe will allow them to lock in Liberal Democrat defectors.