Joe Hendren

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Blog - You are 3 today

Sitemeter Hits since May 2, 2004: 20618

On my first anniversary I reported hits of 2527.
On my second anniversary I reported hits of 12741

So on a year by year basis, numbers are a little down on last year - I blame full time employment!

In my first post I looked at the 2004 decision of the Government to raise the parental income thresholds for student allowances. I showed, using budget figures to back me up, that Labour were not being as generous as they wished to appear, as these changes were accompanied to significant cuts in elligibility for student allowances, such as the removal of the ability to apply for independent circumstances on the basis of supporting yourself through work for two years.

I found it quite interesting to look back on this post, especially in the context of the interest free loan policy. In 2004, I called on the Government to face the fact that significant amounts of "student debt" was never going to be paid back - its good to see interest free loans - as this is a recognition of this policy reality. I also note that there has been a change in Minister.

Yet after over 7 years of a Labour dominated government there has not even been an attempt to come up with a better means testing system, let alone a universal allowance. So no Jordan, the call for universal allowances is not a call for more middle class subsidy*, because the current means testing does not work. Well heeled parents are able understate their income if they happen to run a business. Have a rich parent who left your family years ago and has never given you a dime - no allowance. Fair? No.

The number of students actually recieving an allowance has continued to drop while Labour has been in Government. Given many of the current Labour front bench spent years in the 1990s making political mileage out of National's means testing system when they were in opposition, one might have thought they actually might have done something about it.

Oh that turned out a bit longer than expected!

* Working for Families, with its high thresholds is a much more significant example of 'middle class subsidy'. It also doubles as corporate welfare for underpaying employers.

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