5 reasons students should vote Labour
As part of our election coverage, we've been asking each party the top five reasons why students should vote for them.
Here's what Labour Students had to say on behalf of Labour.
A country where the next generation can do better than the last
Labour understands that for Britain to succeed, everyone needs the opportunity to succeed. But too many students and young people today feel that life is going to be harder for them that it was for their parents.
The Tories’ plan is failing. The Tories’ and Lib Dems’ decision to treble tuition fees means three quarters of today’s students will still be repaying their loans into their fifties. Graduates are entering an economy where too many of the jobs are low-paid, low-skilled and insecure, and a third of graduate interns are being paid nothing at all. At the same time, students and graduates are being hit by soaring rents, rip-off energy bills and rising public transport fares. And for many young people, mainstream politics feels out of touch, irrelevant and disconnected from their lives.
The Tories and Lib Dems have betrayed an entire generation of young people. Labour’s plan offers a better future: where no young person is left behind due to low pay, discrimination or a lack of opportunity - a country where the next generation can do better than the last.
1) A credible plan to cut tuition fees
The Tories’ and Lib Dems’ decision to triple tuition fees means the students will now graduate with £44,000 of debt on average. The Tories have failed to rule out increasing tuition fees again.
Labour will cut the amount of debt loaded onto all students by lowering the tuition fee cap to £6,000 from September 2016 – so current first-year undergraduates will save £3,000 in their third year. As well as reducing the debt burden, we will increase the maximum maintenance grant by £400, to £3,800, benefiting around half of all students. And to ensure universities do not lose out, we will raise the university teaching grant to completely cover the reduction in fee income.
Our plan is fully funded, paid for by restricting pension tax relief for the highest earners, tackling tax avoidance, and a small rise in interest rates on student loans for the highest earning graduates.
2) Better paid and more secure jobs
Too many of the jobs in our economy are low-paid, low-skilled and insecure, and thousands of highly able young people are shut out of career opportunities by lengthy unpaid internships.
Labour will tackle the low pay and insecurity in Britain’s workplaces – for students in part-time work, and for the careers they aspire to in the future. We will ban unpaid work experience that lasts longer than four weeks, to end the scandal of lengthy unpaid internships, raise the minimum wage above £8 by October 2019, and promote the living wage with tax breaks for those companies that sign up to become living wage employers. To stop people sliding into long-term unemployment, we will guarantee a paid starter job for young people unemployed for a year (which they will be required to take up, or risk losing benefits). And we will ban the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts - if you work regular hours for 12 weeks, you’ll be entitled to a regular contract.
3) Tackling the cost-of-living crisis
Under the Tories, Britain is facing a cost-of-living crisis that is hitting students and graduates particularly hard. Since 2010 average rents are up £1,000 a year, energy bills are up £300, and bus fares are up 25 per cent. Too many people are forced to live in sub-standard accommodation in the private rented sector, while paying high rents and sometimes rip-off letting agents’ fees. And the failure to build enough new homes means that for many the dream of home ownership is becoming increasingly out of reach.
Labour has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing crisis. We will improve the quality of rented housing by introducing a self-funded national register of landlords, a legal target for landlords to improve energy efficiency, and making it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes and ensure tough sanctions are in place for bad landlords. We will introduce three-year tenancies for those who want them, with a cap on annual rent increases, and we’ll ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants. And to restore the dream of home ownership, we’ll get Britain building again, with 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, and give local first-time buyers priority access to new homes in key areas.
We will freeze gas and electricity bills while we reform the energy market – and give the regulator power to cut bills this winter. We’ll also freeze rail fares, and give local councils the power to cut bus fares too. And, unlike the Tories, we will ensure those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden –reversing David Cameron’s tax cut for millionaires, while we cut taxes for everyday working families.
4) A more tolerant, equal and open society
. Labour believes that Britain only succeeds when everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential and everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We are proud of the progress we made under the last Labour government to remove barriers to equality and a future Labour government we will act to ensure everyone can lead fulfilling lives free from discrimination, disadvantage and prejudice. We will build on our history of championing LGBT rights, tackling homophobia with tougher laws at home and greater engagement abroad. We will make disability hate crime a specific criminal offence and give disabled people a say at the heart of government. We will require large companies to publish their gender pay gap and take tougher action to stop domestic and sexual violence. And we will establish a race equality strategy to break down the barriers still faced by Black and minority ethnic communities. Our goal is to ensure that our national institutions including the police, judiciary and Parliament are more representative of the diversity in our country.
We will work to restore faith in our politics and give a greater voice to young people. We will give 16 and 17 year olds the vote, alongside improved citizenship and political education. And we will ensure more young people are automatically registered to vote through their schools, colleges and universities, and pilot online voting.
We know that tackling climate change is the most important thing we must do for this and future generations. Labour will meet this challenge, with ambitious carbon reduction targets and a major drive for energy efficiency, and put climate change at the heart of our foreign policy. We will make Britain the most attractive place in the world to invest in low-carbon technologies, creating a million new green jobs in developing the technologies that will help the world tackle climate change.
5) An NHS with time to care
Creating the NHS is the Labour Party’s proudest achievement. But the NHS has gone backwards under David Cameron. More people are waiting longer to see their GP or in A&E, and mental health services for children and young people have been slashed. Meanwhile, billions have been wasted on a top-down reorganisation that put profits before patient care. Another five years of the Tories would make the NHS unrecognisable from the service people cherish and rely on today.
Labour has a better plan. We will protect and invest in the NHS, and recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs - paid for with a mansion tax and cracking down on tax avoidance. We will guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours, and repeal the Tories’ privatisation plans to return the right values to the NHS.
We will also give mental health the priority it deserves, particularly for young people. For the first time, patients will be entitled to talking therapies, like counselling, on the NHS, and we will develop a plan to ensure people can start these treatments within 28 days. We will focus on prevention and early intervention, so problems are spotted and tackled earlier, before they can get worse.
We've been speaking to other political parties over the past few weeks as part of our election coverage.
For more in the series check out:
- 5 Reasons to Vote Conservative
- 5 Reasons to Vote Lib Dem
- 5 Reasons to Vote Green
- 5 Reasons to Vote for the Socialist Worker Party
- 5 Reasons to Vote Plaid Cymru
- 5 Reasons to vote for the Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol Party
and stay tuned (if you can do that on a webpage) for more from the other parties.
For more on the election, see our student voting survey to see how students intend to vote...