They had it comin’

They only had themselves to blame
If you’d’ve been there
If you’d’ve seen it
I think that you would have done the same..


Okay, enough of the Chicago Soundtrack.

It is very easy for me to position myself with the students and to recognise their anger towards the Tories; after all, I was one not long ago. It seems to me that the students are fighting their own corner, dismissed by elders and unappreciated for what they will provide to our society in the future.

 

'The Guardian' - A student dressed in bank notes before the start of the protest march in London.

Those who opted out of university appear to have taken the higher ground and are disgusted with the violence from the minority of protesters. They chime ‘university isn’t the be all and end all’, ‘I worked my way up and now I manage graduates’, ‘what’s the point of non-qualifying degrees anyway’. The argument is not whether university is a necessity, whether a particular degree is worthy of honours, nor is it a comparison to progression through work. It is that the opportunity is being robbed from the poor; people who once wanted to take this route are having second thoughts. It should not be that only the middle-classes and the rich can aspire to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, everyone has the potential to be whoever they want to be. Yet no matter how hard one works, without a degree professional jobs are limited to the ones who can afford to take out a second mortgage.

If the future means students will only study professional degrees, thus leading to professional jobs and hopefully earning a higher income; what will happen to teachers, midwives and nurses? We all know these professions are poorly paid and overworked. The banker who is to blame for the economic crisis pockets all his hard-earned cash, whilst a midwife who is working night shifts trying to pay off her tuition fees and her mortgage is left penniless.

‘According to analysis by Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Union of Students, the total cost of repayment for those earning £35,000-£40,000 per annum would be £37,800, assuming a 30-year repayment period. For those earning £100,000, the cost would be £31,849, based on a repayment period of only four years.’ (Target Courses)

Yes we want professionals who look after us, fight our court cases and whatnot. Yes we also want labourers who fix our pipes, heat our houses and sweep our streets. On top of that, we want social mobility and justice for those earning average annual salaries in a career they enjoy, which they probably acquired from their ‘mickey mouse’ degree.

By ‘we’ I am speaking in reference to society. We should be fuelled by aspiration, not greed.

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Who benefits?

So the Tories strike again; universal Child Benefit is to be abolished. I do not earn enough to be effected, but regardless, I disapprove.

Today’s ‘Sunday Morning Live‘ posed an interesting question; 90% of viewers who voted, answered no to “should we pay for people to have kids?” Perhaps if the question were to be phrased “should parents receive money for their children’s basic amenities?” the results would have been different. The money received from Child Benefit is hardly enough to pay for a child beyond survival, so I do not understand the idea of people making money out of this particular benefit.

I would be less bothered about this issue if the government invested more money into getting people into work, rather than making cuts, forcing them into deprivation. What needs to happen is an evaluation of the benefit system in its entirety, not just segmented cuts which lead to more people losing out than necessary.

One particular area that should be focused on is the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. On the Directgov website you can find out who qualifies for this:

You’re a lone parent

If you’re a single parent you must work 16 hours or more a week to claim help with childcare costs.

You’re part of a couple

Generally you and your partner must both work 16 hours or more a week to claim help. Only one of you has to work 16 hours or more if one of you is:

  • ill or disabled and claiming disability benefits
  • in hospital
  • in prison – serving a custodial sentence or remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence

The average working hours of a full-time employee (9-5 Monday to Friday) is around 37 hours, but as part of a couple, this person does not receive help for childcare. It seems that even when one works more than the requirement for two adults put together, the system does not acknowledge this.

My research came about when DS started nursery to enable me to work and DH to attend his lectures. The system does not acknowledge that DH being a student is also a full-time job, as well as looking after DS. The cost of childcare is ridiculous and luckily DS only needs to be there for two half days a week. But there are less fortunate families, at approximately £20 a half day and £30 a full day, how does one expect a low income family to afford childcare and go to work five days a week? A family with less aspirations in a similar situation as us may choose the easier option to work part-time at 16 hours a week, instead of full-time, because the benefit system is willing to accommodate this. Maybe if they offered less financial incentives to not work and aided those who chose to earn their own money, we would have a more self-sufficient society.

Making cuts in the benefit system only works when there are alternative implements to encourage people to work, otherwise it is just another means of taxing the poor.

Sell out.

Clegg launched a manifesto pledge at Barnardos to introduce a Pupil Premium which would raise the poorest childrens school funding to private school levels.

You would think that as time moved on, I would start to get over the deceit and bury the memories of being cheated for my vote. A hundred days later, Clegg still stands by his sham of a government, stating in The Observer; ‘we will govern for the long term and we’ll stick to our plan’. I almost find this quote comical; what is this plan you speak of? I am very sure I watched you live on television, listened to you on the radio and read articles reassuring our nation that you were eager to protect our schools and our public sector. Why is it now that we find ‘Building Schools for the Future’ scrapped, less university places are available and the inevitability of privatised universities? I wonder how many more times we will find Clegg negating his policies in favour for a bigger pay check.

I will be forever resentful that my first vote was not towards bettering our country, but to aid the rich in getting richer. Clegg, you sold out.