A COALITION OF THE DROWNING

7 April 2011

The Tory Libdem government appears to be on a carousel of stupidity.

Most universities have not reported their fees yet but, to the government’s amazement but no one else’s, most fees look set to be typically near to the maximum of £9000 a year, meant to be an “exceptional” figure. This, with changes in the interest charged, will increase student debt though there will be bursaries and fee waivers. Expect a rehash.

Tory Libdem plans to privatise England’s forests antagonised very many, including half a million petitioners, all with votes, and have temporarily at least been shunted aside.

The bill to reorganise the NHS is being heavily amended; or perhaps it isn’t really being amended but just tinkered with. Who knows? All is a shambles.

Removing the ringfencing from the money for the discretionary supporting people program for very vulnerable people has enabled some councils, including Cornwall, to cut funding disproportionately. This was entirely predictable: faced with making cuts, many councils will cut unringfenced discretionary projects. The government has deprecated disproportionate cuts to supporting people that its own policy made possible and likely: see page 29 here.

The Tory Libdem government has ended the waiting time targets in the NHS. The proportion of patients waiting for more than four hours in A and E to be seen has increased significantly, including in Cornwall, in 2010 against 2009. See the report for 4 April 2011 here.

Now we have the chaos of the replacement for the student educational maintenance allowance (EMA). A Labour scheme of £580 million (2009/10) was to become a Tory Libdem scheme of £75 million a year. After protests it has been rewritten to be a scheme of £180 million a year for fewer students plus £194 million for transitional payments, a total of £374 million found from – well, where from? Is it the money Osborne keeps under his mattress or is it money from other parts of education department spending? The plans were to stop the EMA in July for everyone but protests have led to its being continued wholly or in part for students currently receiving it; that’s the £194 million. This is sensible and fair but why did the government first plan to be stupid and unfair?

This is a coalition of the drowning.

Addendum 8 April 2011

University College Falmouth has set its fees at £9000 from 2012.
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