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The government is trying to scrap grants by the back door

Tuesday 12-01-2016 - 11:54

This Thursday could be one of the last opportunities we have to force the government to think again on scrapping maintenance grants. Due to the incredible lobbying power of students’ unions we have managed to secure a ‘Delegated Legislation Committee’ to review the government’s plans. This would give MPs in Parliament a chance to publically disagree with the government and ask them to withdraw their plans to scrap grants.

Action by students’ unions all over the country has meant 76 MPs have joined with us to oppose the government’s legislation. The motion they have signed, (EDM 829) is calling for the government to withdraw their plans. Lobbying by students’ unions has ensured the government cannot just pass their proposals without any scrutiny. Unfortunately, the government have decided to hide from a full debate in the House of Commons.

Using complicated parliamentary procedures, the government is trying to stitch up a debate by using what is known as a ‘Delegated Legislation Committee’ to review their plans. Whilst this committee doesn’t have the power to reject the plans outright, it does mean the government would come under even more pressure to finally allow MPs a full vote on whether to scrap maintenance grants. But we are running out of time, with only two weeks left to hold a full debate in Parliament.

That is why this week is so important. This committee is made up of MPs from across the House of Commons and will meet on Thursday. That means we only have a few days to convince them to vote against these plans and send a message to George Osborne that he should think again.

Scrapping maintenance grants was a proposal rushed through in this summer’s budget after the General Election. The proposal was introduced without any consultation with students, the higher education sector or the public. In fact, the government’s own Equality Impact Assessment reveals the risk of damage to participation in education of students from poorer backgrounds and in particular women, Black, mature, Muslim and disabled students.

Only a few MPs who formally make up the committee can vote on whether to not consider the legislation, but many more are able to attend and have their views heard. That is why students’ unions are so incredibly important in the next few days. More than ever, we need to target our lobbying at those who have the power to vote in this decision.


We are asking students' unions to ask their MPs to:

  • Attend and speak at the Delegated Legislation Committee on the new Student Support regulations taking place this Thursday 14 January, at 11.30am in Committee Room 9. They can find more details here.
  • Call for a full debate in the House of Commons by contacting universities minister Jo Johnson and adding your name to praying motion EDM 829. They can sign the motion here.
  • Real our full briefing on the changes and challenge the government on the impact of the scrapping of maintenance grants on those most at risk. They can read the briefing here.


Students’ unions can:

  • Find out more in our full briefing available here.
  • Use our template letter to MPs to ask them to attend the Committee here.
  • Encourage students to write to their MP by email here or on Twitter here – you can find some draft tweets for Thursday below.
  • Call their MP by ringing 020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to your MP’s office and use this script to help you.

The government is trying to avoid this debate in Parliament and we must use every opportunity to hold them to account and force them to hold a full, proper debate and vote on this issue. These changes will leave the poorest students graduating with the highest debt. Over 500,000 students currently receive this targeted support to help with everyday living costs.

It is vitally important MPs hear this message ahead of Thursday’s Committee and your help is so important in ensuring we are heard.


Twitter Lobby

We’re holding a twitter lobby on Friday morning to urge MPs sat on the Committee to make it clear to the government just how damaging these changes will be.


Sample tweets:

“[insert twitter handle here] Govt shouldn't hide from a real debate. Please vote today to 'not consider' scrapping maintenance grants for poorest students”

“[insert twitter handle here] Scrapping maintenance grants will hit poorest students hardest. Please vote to not consider the plans at the DLC today!”

“[insert twitter handle here] Please vote not to consider new Student Support regulations which will scrap support for the poorest students. #CutTheCosts


Twitter handles:


Thank you for all your hard work,

Megan

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