MINISTER FOR THE NORTH EAST CHALLENGED OVER LATEST CUTS TO STUDENT GRANTS IN REGION

September 29, 2008 9:26 PM

Reports released today suggest that the Government will have to reduce entitlement to grants for students starting this year after underestimating the numbers applying, with the Department for Universities, Innovation, and Skills admitting a £200 million budget shortfall.

It is understood that the Government will remove entitlement to grants for students from families earning more than £50,000 - the current ceiling is £60,000. As a result, thousands of students could lose entitlement to grants of up to £524.

The constituency of Newcastle East represented by Nick Brown has one of the highest student populations in the country. In addition to the thousands of students studying here, many hard working families are striving to send their sons and daughters to university despite the credit crunch and the imposition of tuition fees by the Labour Government.

The change to the policy could result in a family where both parents are working losing entitlement to maintenance grants, on top of being required to pay student tuition fees and supporting living costs.

Newcastle East Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman Greg Stone has challenged Minister for the North East Nick Brown to reveal how many middle-income families will be hit by the Government's error on calculating entitlement to student support grants.

"The Liberal Democrats will continue to remind the thousands of student voters in Newcastle East that Nick Brown was a key player in the introduction of tuition fees," he said.

"When the Labour Government first proposed tuition fees Nick Brown pledged to oppose them.

"In the event he and his fellow rebels caved in after allowing himself to be bought off by Government promises to restore some support grants for students from low and middle income families.

"Given the news that students from families where both parents are working will now have to pay the price for the Government's miscalculations, Nick Brown needs to explain himself.

"We call upon him to identify how many students studying at North East universities will be affected, and how many families in Newcastle East will be hit by yet another Labour stealth cut."