Gerald Vernon-Jackson

The Lib Dem Student Council Tax – Why Students Should Be Angry.

Not happy with the trebling of tuition fees, getting rid of EMA, making cuts of up to 80% to the teaching budget for Universities, and hinting that future medics  will be forced to apply for bank loans… the Liberal Democrats now want students to pay for council tax which, according to the Telegraph, typically costs more than £1,000 for an average home.

Today, it was reported in the Daily Telegraph that at a meeting between Government ministers and local government leaders, a senior Liberal Democrat indicated that councils should be free to charge students council tax.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who is the leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors and head of Portsmouth City Council said: “Local authorities should have greater discretion over Council Tax exemptions and discounts, such as the student exemption”.

This announcement that a top Liberal Democrat spokesperson supports the idea of students paying council tax comes against the backdrop of a national campaign to highlight hidden costs that affect students financially.

This week, the National Union of Students will be building up to a campaign called ‘come clean’ It is designed to get Universities to admit to hidden course costs which could be avoided if Universities took affirmative action in providing adequate resources to absorb these costs.

A Liberal Youth spokesperson said, “This is taken out of context. When asked, what more powers councils should have, he replied they should be able to decide who pays council tax, but he’s against the actual idea!” A post by a Liberal Democrat blog confirmed this.

What is clear is that the Liberal Democrats don’t appear to be in touch with students. Whether the Councillor made an outright attack on student exemption from council tax or whether he made a bid for local councils to govern over such matters – students would ultimately lose out.

In towns and cities where students don’t dominate the population, those councils could potentially see students as a source of revenue that would have little political implication. Also, remember applying to University? Imagine factoring in the rate of council tax along with everything else you already need to consider before choosing where you want to go to study. It would be a system riddled with chaos and one that asks you to consider money before ability. Without a shadow of a doubt, it would be a situation that works against young people from poorer backgrounds.

However this is spun, I’m angry, and you should be too.

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