The Coalition’s £9,000-a-year tuition fee hike could cost taxpayers more than the scheme it replaced, a think-tank has warned. A £1bn-a-year “black hole” in university funding shows that the rushed tuition fee reforms are coming back to haunt both the Lib Dems and the Tories, despite all their claims that the reforms would save the country money.
The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says that the government “seriously understated” the cost of its higher education reforms and will either have to implement drastic cuts to student numbers or ask graduates to make higher repayments – a result that will deeply embarrass the Lib Dems.
So as well as having an impact on social mobility, lumping a lifetime of debt on future graduates and deterring future students from attending higher education, the drastic cuts to higher education will actually end up costing taxpayers more in the long run. However, this was clear from the start, and it has often been said that you do not cut public spending in a recession. This government’s policies may reduce debt in the short run, but in the longer-term the “austerity” programs may lead to irreparable damage to the public sector, to education, and to the UK as a whole.
None of this is new, however. A report published in 2010 stated that with state funding for University teaching being cut by a monumental 80% by 2014-15, the government will have to borrow more to fund the higher loans and pick up a bigger bill for those debts “written off” after 30 years; The report argued this will leave taxpayers worse off.
This is what happens when austerity reforms are pushed through as legislation before MP’s have had a chance to properly review and debate the proposals. The student protests of 2010 fell on deaf ears. It’s clear that either the Coalition MP’s who passed this legislation were either so short-sighted, they could not see the implications of their reforms, or the reforms themselves were ideologically-driven. But the Tories are anything but ideologically-driven, right?
Tom Watson, deputy chairman of the Labour Party, announced yesterday that a powerful paedophile network may have operated in Britain and been protected by connections to Parliament and Downing Street, the Independent reports.
English: 10 Downing Street door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Referring to a case in 1992 of Peter Righton, Watson called on the Metropolitan Police to re-open the closed criminal enquiry into paedophilia. Righton, who was a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau and lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work in London, was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material. He admitted the charges and was fined £900. At Prime Minister Question’s, Watson said of the evidence file to convict Righton: “If it still exists, [it] contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.”
He added: “One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if they exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate.”
A landmark Supreme Court ruling means that equal-pay disputes can be heard in the civil courts, not just employment tribunals, for the first time. Over 170 women, who worked in low-paying jobs for Birmingham City Council, claim that they were paid less than their male colleagues and have won the right to have their cases heard in the courts. This could have implications for thousands of workers, and could mean that female employees at local authorities across the country could potentially receive payouts for pay discrimination.
Equal-pay disputes have generally been heard in employment tribunals, which only deal with cases brought within six months of leaving a place of work. However the ruling means that future disputes can be heard in civil courts which has a longer six-year time frame in which a case can be brought.
The dispute over equal pay at Birmingham City Council has been running for over three years. The female employees who brought the case to court were employed in roles such as cleaners, cooks, caterers and care staff, and claimed that they were excluded from bonuses that were given to male employees. Between 2007 and 2008, Birmingham City Council ended up paying thousands of pounds in compensation to women bringing the claim, but only those who did so within the six month period of leaving their jobs. Those left out of the original compensation took their case to the High Court.
The law firm Leigh Day & Co., who represents the women, declared the ruling as “historic.” In a statement, the firm said the judgement:
“…Effectively extends the time limit for equal-pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to equal pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for thousands of workers”.