In the past six months, the Conservative Liberal Democrat Government has brought in policies that seriously undermine support for the education and development of our children and young people in Salford.
The early years of a child’s life are very important for its development. That is why Labour introduced the Health in Pregnancy Grant and developed Sure Start Children’s Centres to give every child the best start, and the Child Trust Fund to help families save for the future.
The Government has already axed the Health in Pregnancy Grant and is axing Child Trust Funds from next year. Over 19,500 Child Trust Funds already opened for children in Salford will not be topped up and in future families will get no help with saving for their children. Under the Conservatives, Sure Start centres will get less funding and their services will not be for every child but focus only on those from the poorest families.
The Government is cutting our Building Schools for the Future programme in Salford by 40%, meaning many of our children and young people being denied the chance to study in new or refurbished school buildings.
The Government is also cutting support for students aged 16-18 years by scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance. Last year, nearly 3,500 young people in Salford were able to study for A-levels thanks to support from this allowance. This cut will mean many students will not stay on in education.
Now the Government will increase university fees to £9,000 per year and cut the funding for teaching in Salford and other Universities. Students could have up to £40,000 of debt at the end of a degree. I am worried that this will prevent young people from Salford going on to higher education.
It is completely short-sighted for the Government to cut support for young people to go into higher education. Our economy depends on having an educated workforce which can compete with countries with a large number of graduates, like China and India. These Government cuts to support for children and young people will cost us dearly in the long run.