GUEST COLUMN: Changes will leave students with even more debt, by Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero

MP Gloria De Piero
MP Gloria De Piero
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Young people have had to put up with a lot since the Tories came into power in 2010, not least the massive hike in university tuition fees.

The recent scrapping of maintenance grants is another huge blow that they are having to come to terms with. Maintenance grants were non-repayable grants of up to £3,387 per year that were available to the poorest university students to help with the costs of rent, food, textbooks and the like.

In Ashfield in 2013/14, 690 students received a maintenance grant. But now these grants - which have helped thousands of students from poor backgrounds access university education - are being replaced with loans.

This means graduates will be loaded up with even more debt and it may well put some people off going to university completely. This attack on aspiration and opportunity is just not acceptable.

Democracy is one of those essential human rights that should never be taken for granted.

It is so important that people are able to have their say on who should be in Government, who should run the local council, or whether Great Britain should be a member of the European Union. But the way that you register to vote has changed and as a result thousands of people across the country are set to lose the opportunity to have their say on these issues.

In Ashfield, around 170 potential voters have dropped off the register due to the new individual electoral registration system which was hurriedly introduced by the Government in December 2015.

That is 0.2 per cent of the electorate in the district and as Shadow Minister for Voter Registration, I am working hard to see that those people are back on the register as soon as possible. What is even worse is that the numbers are much greater in some constituencies, such as those that contain university towns. Here, ten or even 12 per cent of voters have dropped off the register.

Check if you are registered, it is so quick and easy to sign up – just visit gov.uk/register-to-vote.