SDLP Employment and Learning spokesperson Pat Ramsey has condemned plans to scrap student maintenance grants as an attack on working class students and an assault on social mobility.
Reacting to George Osbourne’s budget, Mr. Ramsey said: “Many of us have had very serious concerns about the provisions of this Tory budget for a number of months. The SDLP warned that it would hit the poorest hardest but few of us could have foreseen such a savage attack on students.
“The Tories have now confirmed that, when it comes to cuts, students are the first in line. They began the last parliament by trebling tuition fees, condemning our young people to a lifetime burden of debt, and now they’re cutting off support to those young people least able to afford a university education.”
Mr. Ramsey branded the move an “attack” on working class students and families and an “assault” on social mobility.
“It’s typical of the Tory attitude to low income families,” he added.
“They claim to want to help people secure jobs and move away from a life on benefits but they’re cutting access to higher education and continue to push people into poverty. What we need is a fully implemented strategy for widening participation, not stifling it with funding cuts.”
The Tories, he said, had made their priorities clear - cuts to inheritance tax for the richest and slashes to student support for the poorest. This agenda must be opposed.
“It’s important now that civil society demonstrates its opposition to these plans. The SDLP will continue to stand with students, we will march with them, we will make the case for them and we will vote against these proposals.”