Posts Tagged: ‘Josef Shomperlen Blog’

‘Historic’ schools funding change confirmed

September 14, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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“Historic” changes to the schools funding formula in England will make it fairer and more transparent, says Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Changes announced last December sparked protests from parents concerned their schools were set to lose out.

Ms Greening said she was increasing the basic level of funding schools would get per pupil – with a minimum level of £3,500 for primary schools by 2019-20.

But Labour said it would still mean a real terms cut, due to inflation.

The new national funding formula was announced by the education secretary last December, following years of complaints that schools in different parts of the country were receiving different levels of per pupil funding.

‘Outdated system’

But it was met with protests across England amid concerns that thousands of schools stood to lose money. In July, Ms Greening promised an extra £1.3bn over two years, found from elsewhere in the education budget.

Giving details of an updated version of the formula, Ms Greening told MPs on Thursday it was a “historic reform” that would address “inequities in funding that have existed for far too long” and would “direct resources where they are most needed”.

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Jonathan White

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Funding changes have provoked an angry response in some areas

She said “when Coventry receives £510 more per pupil than Plymouth, despite having equal proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals”, it was clear the formula had to change.

The £1.3bn extra funding announced in July meant overall budgets would rise by £2.6bn in total from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn in 2019-20, she said.

She said she was increasing the basic level of funding to at least £4,800 per pupil at secondary schools in England, as announced in July, and £3,500 per pupil at primaries.

The Department for Education said this would mean an increase for every school of at least 1% per pupil by 2019-20 – with the most underfunded schools getting up to a 3% rise.

‘Real terms cut’

The per pupil funding confirmed on Thursday is more generous than when the new formula was announced in December 2016.

Then, it was proposed that primary schools would attract £2,712 for every pupil, rising through a pupil’s school career to a maximum of £4,312 for Years 10 and 11, the last years at secondary school.

But schools will not automatically get the per pupil funding.

Local authorities will be given a block grant that they must allocate to schools in their area.

Ms Greening said “final decisions on local distribution will be taken by local authorities” but, under the new formula, on average every school would receive at least 0.5% more per pupil in 2018-19 and 1% more in 2019-20 “compared to its baseline”, while many schools would receive “significantly larger increases”.

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PA

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The education secretary said the new formula was fairer

Shadow education Secretary Angela Rayner said pressure from schools, teachers and parents had forced the government “to abandon millions of pounds in outright cuts to schools”.

But she told MPs the announcement did “nothing to reverse” cuts already faced by schools.

She quoted the National Audit Office, saying schools had already lost nearly £2.7bn since the Conservatives pledged in 2015 to protect funding in real terms and asked Ms Greening to “admit to the House that her announcement today does nothing to reverse those cuts and keep that promise”.

The funding formula would result in a “real terms cut in school budgets”, because of inflation, she added.

‘Still too low’

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) general secretary Geoff Barton said while he welcomed setting minimum funding levels, they were “still way too low to allow schools to deliver the quality of education they want to provide and which pupils need”.

The ASCL says an extra £2bn a year is needed by 2020 to address “real terms” cuts to education funding.

Mr Barton said: “The fundamental problem is there is not enough funding going into education… schools have already suffered huge cuts, and the additional funding is nowhere near enough to prevent further cuts.”

Teacher shortages

Jules White, a West Sussex head teacher who co-ordinated a campaign over funding shortages, said Thursday’s announcement appeared to be “an attempt to simply paper over the cracks”.

“Arbitrary funding caps within the formula mean that the massive disparities between adequately funded and inadequately funded schools will continue. They will be locked in for years to come.

“The spectre of even larger class sizes, teacher shortages, reduced pastoral care and even reduced curriculum time will not recede until all schools are adequately and fairly funded.”

Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said it was pleased the government had given councils and schools the “flexibility to set budgets locally” to help them adjust to the new formula but called for a review of funding for children with disabilities or special educational needs.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41269926

Malala’s next steps

September 13, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Malala in New YorkImage copyright
Reuters

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Malala says she is nervous about starting as a student at Oxford

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the “global community” needs to intervene to protect Myanmar’s Muslim minority.

She urged Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for the Rohingya.

“We can’t be silent right now. The number of people who have been displaced is hundreds of thousands,” Malala told the BBC.

The human rights activist is about to become a student at Oxford and admitted to “nerves” about her new life.

Speaking in Oxford, she called for an international response to the violence in Myanmar.

Human rights

“I think we can’t even imagine for a second what it’s like when your citizenship, your right to live in a country, is completely denied,” said Malala.

“This should be a human rights issue. Governments should react to it. People are being displaced, they’re facing violence.

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Reuters

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Rohingya refugees have been trying to reach Bangladesh

“Children are being deprived of education, they cannot receive basic rights – and living in a terrorism situation, when there’s so much violence around you, is extremely difficult.

“We need to wake up and respond to it – and I hope that Aung Sang Suu Kyi responds to it as well,” she said.

Malala, now 20, is about to become an undergraduate at the University of Oxford.

While the university might have produced many people who went on to win Nobel prizes, she is unusual in having one before she has arrived.

“I am trying to be just a normal student.”

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Reuters

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Malala received her A-level results this summer

“I want to make friends just as the girl Malala and not the Nobel laureate.”

Media captionWatch: Who are the Rohingya?

“I’m a bit nervous as well, because in the beginning you don’t know anyone, and you don’t know how to make friends and it will be challenging… but fingers crossed it will be OK.”

She also says she is pleased to be following in the footsteps of another “strong female leader” from Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, who studied at Oxford.

Missing school

Malala has been campaigning over the rights of girls to have an education – and she is setting up a network of “champions” for education in countries such as Afghanistan and Nigeria and for Syrian refugees.

This is called the Gulmakai Network – the name taken from her pseudonym when she wrote a blog about the loss of girls’ rights under the Taliban in Pakistan, which had lead to the attempt on her life in 2012.

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Getty Images

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Students in Mexico hold up copies of her book when she visited this year

She says she wants education to be recognised as a global priority – and for more urgency in addressing the lack of access to school for 130 million girls, often in the world’s poorest countries or in conflict zones.

“I know there are other issues that are taken more seriously – such as poverty, terrorism, or climate change, but education is the only solution for all of these problems.”

She says there are many problems to overcome, “whether it’s early marriage, poverty, lack of awareness or lack of funding”.

“But the benefits are many, we need to educate people about the importance of education,” she said.

Forgiveness

Malala, the advocate of girls’ right to education, came to the world’s attention after the Taliban in her native Pakistan attempted to murder her in a gun attack.

This week there have been reports that one of those involved in the attack had been killed by security forces in Pakistan.

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Getty Images

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Malala’s life is being depicted in a Bollywood movie

She says she has already forgiven the people who were trying to murder her.

“I have forgiven them.

“But they were able to carry out other killings in Pakistan. I hope that the army and the country helps them in a deradicalisation process and they learn about the true message of Islam and the meaning of human rights and learn about the importance of education.

“But personally I have forgiven them.

“I think what’s the point now to say that they should be punished. It has no benefit to anyone, you’re just creating more harm. I would want to reduce harm and help each other.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41193357

Reality Check

September 13, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Teenagers in school uniformImage copyright
Getty Images

As children across the UK are settling into the new school year, many families are facing hefty bills for compulsory school uniforms.

For older children – or those who are taller than average – school uniforms, as well as all other clothing and shoes, attract the full standard VAT rate of 20%.

Reality Check explores why these families are paying more and why successive governments haven’t acted.

What are the current rules?

Clothing and shoes for young children have been charged a zero rate of VAT since the introduction of the tax on 1 April 1973.

The problem is that there is no definition of the term “young children” in VAT law. Instead, the VAT relief is based on the maximum size an average child will be on their 14th birthday.

So clothes for older children, as well as many children under the age of 14 who are larger than average, are taxed at 20%. And this includes school uniform.


Maximum measurements for VAT zero-rated clothing

Source: HM Revenue and Customs


Why doesn’t the government cut the rate?

The policy would be very popular with parents, and it has been considered in the past, but it has never been taken up.

Way back in 1980, HM Customs Excise considered the possibility of scrapping VAT on school uniforms, but concluded that the zero rate, aimed at children, would be exploited by adults in the larger sizes.

After all, the uniform in a great number of secondary schools includes plain trousers, skirts and shirts – items that adults could wear too.

There were proposals that elements of school uniform clearly identified as being from a particular school, by a logo for example, could be made exempt from VAT.

In 1997, Conservative MP Tim Loughton proposed that such a policy could be policed by the production of a school identification card, or the uniform could be ordered through the school. But the Labour government of the time did not support it.

Other MPs have raised the issue since then.

Last week, Labour MP Sarah Jones asked Steven Baker, a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union, whether Brexit might result in a change in policy.

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Getty Images

How is the EU involved?

EU countries have been co-ordinating VAT rates since 1992 to ensure there is no unfair competition across national borders.

Under EU rules, countries must apply a minimum standard VAT rate of 15%, but 0% VAT is also allowed for the goods which were taxed at that rate before 1991. So children’s clothing and footwear in the UK are protected.

The UK’s standard VAT rate is 20% and the EU rules would not stop the government from reducing the standard rate by five percentage points now, if it wanted to.

But if the government wanted to add all school uniform to the list of the goods that are taxed at 0%, it would need the agreement of all other EU countries to do so. No UK government has ever tried this.

After the UK leaves the EU, there is unlikely to be such a restriction.

Mr Baker said any future decisions on VAT would be taken by the chancellor as part of the normal Budget process. He pointed out that VAT raised £120bn last year and provided funding for public services including education.

For now, it seems unlikely that any change in policy would be on the cards even after Brexit.

Exceptions to the rules

If a school is exclusively for pupils under 14 years of age, the zero rate can be applied irrespective of the size of the garment, as long as the garment is unique to that school by design, such as a prominent badge.

So, for instance, a uniform for a private prep school which caters for children up to the age of 13 only, attracts 0% VAT irrespective of the size, but the parents of older or taller children in a typical state secondary school with pupils up to the age of 16, have to pay an extra 20% to cover the VAT.

The zero rate also applies to organisations such as Beavers or Brownies, for the clothing items that form the uniform regardless of the size, as long as these organisations cater exclusively for under-14s,


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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41202356

What’s it like to start reading at 60?

September 13, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Florence Cheptoo

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Florence Cheptoo began to learn to read when her grandchild brought home a library book

What’s it like to read your first words at the age of 60? What difference does it make after a lifetime of getting by without reading?

If you think about how much written information we consume every hour – going through emails at work or flicking through messages on mobiles phone – it’s hard to imagine being without these ways of communicating.

But Florence Cheptoo, who lives in an isolated rural village near Chesongoch, in Kenya, has turned her first page as a 60-year-old.

Her path to reading began when her granddaughter brought home books from primary school.

The school had been given a small lending library of books, through the Book Aid International project that distributes books donated by UK publishers.

But many of the parents and grandparents of the schoolchildren were themselves unable to read, and teachers began literacy lessons for adults.

Florence, forwarding her answers to the BBC through a local librarian, said she now felt “part of those who are in the modern world”.

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Adult literacy classes began after the library was opened

When she had been younger, there had been no support for her to become literate, she said.

Her parents had wanted her to marry and to get a dowry and stay tending livestock – and there had never been a chance to learn.

“My parents did not value the need for education,” she said.

It meant that she couldn’t sign her name or read any legal documents or check if she was being cheated over payments.

Now, Florence has begun reading and lists the practical differences it has made in her life.

She can read the information on medicine she is prescribed, she can look at newspapers and find out about the outside world and take charge of her own personal records.

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Florence says that learning to read has brought more control over her life, as well as pleasure

There are things she said she particularly enjoyed: reading storybooks for the first time, getting letters from her family and being able to read the Bible for herself.

The world of maps has been opened up. “I like knowing where other parts of the country are located,” she said. And she has been getting books on agriculture “so that I can learn how to farm”.

When her grandchildren get school reports, she can see how they are progressing.

It had given her a new confidence, she said, letting her feel more knowledgeable and able to have an opinion alongside people, either literate or illiterate.

“I am able to identify what is good and bad in society.”

Florence wasn’t the oldest member of this adult literacy class.

There was also a man in his 80s. His eyesight wasn’t very good and he didn’t really think he would become much of a reader – but he told the teachers that he wanted to be seen regularly at the class to send a message to the rest of the village that this was important.


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The Book Aid International charity distributes a million free books a year, new from publishers, with further grants to buy books locally and to train librarians and teaching staff.

Most of the books go to projects in Africa, where they are shared in libraries.

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The village is in a remote part of Kenya

Emma Taylor, from Book Aid International, has visited the scheme in Kenya where Florence is learning and says there is a great demand for learning there – which the library helps to serve.

“It’s an incredibly powerful experience,” she said, seeing people reading for the first time.

“It opens the door to so many different things that we take so much for granted.”

Setting up libraries in deprived communities had a particular value, she said.

In the slums of Nairobi, she said, libraries had become a place of safety for young people, where they could feel protected, and then could begin exploring the books around them and opening up their minds to ideas.

“There’s something really special about a library. It’s not just putting books in a room,” she said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41204118

Young people fear for futures in Brexit Britain, says study

September 13, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Young employees at a deskImage copyright
dusanpetkovic

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Many of those questioned felt unprepared for modern life and work

More than two-thirds of young people in the UK have an “international outlook” and many fear for their prospects once the UK leaves the EU, says a report.

Ipsos Mori questioned a representative group of almost 2,000 18 to 30-year-olds for a study by cross-party think tank Demos, for the British Council.

Overall, young people said they feel “overburdened” by responsibility and “multiple barriers”, says the report.

Ministers said schools worked hard to prepare pupils for life in a modern UK.

The report is part of the British Council’s Next Generation series of studies of young people in countries facing pivotal change – others include reports on Bangladesh, Ukraine, Colombia, Turkey and South Africa.

Alongside the survey, the researchers held focus groups and workshops with young people across the UK.

‘Looking inwards’

Many of those interviewed were still “angry and emotional” about last year’s vote to leave the EU but the report notes that, while 69% of young people who voted were in favour of remaining, about half did not vote.

Of those polled, six in 10 said they would vote to remain if another referendum was held now.

“While there are certainly those who see leaving the EU as a great opportunity, many participants in our focus groups were worried about impacts on their lives, prospects and future plans, including constraining opportunities to work and study in other countries,” says the report.

“Furthermore there was some concern that internationally the UK will be seen as a country looking inwards at a time when global co-operation has never been more important.”

According to the survey:

  • 68% of those polled believe international experience and a global outlook are essential for their future goals
  • 57% are positive about the effects of globalisation on their own lives

But almost a quarter said they had been unable to experience any form of international engagement, whether learning a foreign language or living and studying abroad.

The report found divisions along socio-economic, educational and regional lines, with young Britons from poorer families, with lower educational attainment and parents without degrees, far less likely to be positive about globalisation or to have an international outlook.

The same was true for those from the North of England and the Midlands compared with London and the South.

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Getty Images

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Young people want educators to focus more on life skills and less on grades

The report also found many were frustrated with an education system they saw as overly focused on grades rather than life skills like money management, healthy eating, mental health and relationships.

About half felt their education had failed to properly prepare them for the world of work or for adulthood generally.

Many felt constrained by a lack of affordable housing, limited career opportunities and poor pay and conditions.

Recommendations based on the findings by a UK-wide panel of young people brought together for the report, include:

  • better international work and study opportunities for a wider range of young people
  • better politics and citizenship education
  • more focus on young people by local politicians
  • fairer workplace treatment for all young people
  • a greater focus by educators on building pupils’ resilience to the demands of modern life and work.

Lead author Ian Wybron said: “Our research confirms that many young adults feel frustrated with an education system and labour market that doesn’t work for them – and the young advisers behind this project urge the government to take steps to redress inequality of opportunity.

“Young adults want reassurances that government will work to maintain and grow opportunities for young people to connect abroad and not just for the usual suspects who do so already.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We have been clear that Britain should always remain a truly outward looking, global nation.

“Schools already prepare pupils for life in modern Britain by teaching them the knowledge, skills and values they need to fulfil their potential.

“For example, the citizenship curriculum teaches young people to play a full role in society and we have introduced both a national and international citizen service to support this.

“We recognise the value of international exchange programmes and collaboration in education and training, and are investing over £70m this year in high quality careers provision for young people.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41165927

City College Norwich autistic student ‘binned’ from course

September 12, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

James Parker

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James Parker’s family said it felt “amazing” when they were told he had got a college place

An autistic teenager who was thrown off his college course just days after starting said he feels as though he has been “thrown away in a bin”.

City College Norwich said James Parker, 16, had been “enrolled in error”.

His mother was told by letter that the college had made a mistake and that James, from Norwich, could not return.

The college has apologised to the family, but James said: “I just wanted to study there, I don’t know how they can do that.”

Special needs charity InterAct said the decision to remove James just three days after he began at the college was “shocking”.

Lesley Bailey, from the charity, said: “He must be devastated.

“It’s preventing him from having an education that he has a right to like any other young person of 16… and he has that right until he’s 25 because he has a learning difficulty.”

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The teenager’s mother received a letter to say he had been “enrolled in error”

Mrs Parker was told in a letter by City College Norwich that James was no longer able to go there as it could not meet his needs.

The college told the BBC it had assessed James in March and had informed Norfolk County Council that he needed a “higher level of support and a different learning environment” than it could provide.

It said a tutor enrolled James in error in July after the family bypassed the assessment process and made a direct application to the college.

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Emma Parker said she has had difficulty sleeping since her son was thrown off his course

Norfolk County Council said it had made repeated attempts over several months to speak to the family about James’ future.

“We remain very keen to work with James and his family to secure the best possible outcome for his education,” it said in a statement.

Mrs Parker said that during the last term at school, James had not needed one-to-one support and could often cope with difficult social situations.

“James feels like nobody wants him,” she added.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-41233763

Teachers’ pay declining, warns OECD

September 12, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

classroomImage copyright
Getty Images

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Teachers have seen their earnings falling, says the OECD

Teachers in England and Scotland earned less in real terms in 2015 than a decade before, says an annual report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This decline in income is in contrast to international trends, where average teachers’ pay has been increasing.

The OECD’s comparisons follow reports of plans by the UK government to lift public sector pay caps.

The National Audit Office says schools are struggling to appoint new teachers.

The international monitoring report on education, published each year by the OECD, shows that for teachers in England, with 15 years experience, pay had fallen by 12% between 2005 and 2015, when inflation had been taken into account.

For teachers in Scotland with similar experience, pay had fallen in value by 6% over the decade.

Austerity pay limits

But across developed countries, the OECD survey shows an upward trend for teachers’ pay, up on average by 6% in primary and lower secondary and 4% for upper secondary.

The study also shows that teachers in England and Scotland – and on average across the OECD – earn less than other graduate-level workers.

There have been claims that ministers are going to relax the restraints on public sector workers’ pay.

The cap on pay, initially of 0% and then 1%, has been in place since 2010, as part of austerity measures.

The pay review body for teachers announced in July that the 1% pay increase limit for teachers would continue for another year.

But the pay body, carrying out government pay policy, warned of a “real risk that schools will not be able to recruit and retain a workforce of high quality teachers to support pupil achievement”.

Last week, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the 1% cap on public sector pay rises in Scotland would be scrapped next year.

‘Significant sums’

There have been warnings from head teachers that salary levels are contributing to recruitment problems.

On Tuesday, the head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, said ministers needed to “urgently address” the teacher shortage.

“Schools are facing real challenges in retaining and developing their teachers, with growing pupil numbers and tighter budgets.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said more teachers were being recruited – with 15,500 more working in the classrooms than in 2010.

There were “significant sums” being spent on teacher recruitment, said the DfE.

“We recognise there are challenges facing schools and we are taking significant steps to address them.”

The annual report also shows that the UK continues to spend more of its national wealth on education than any other developed country.

The OECD’s annual report says the UK is the highest spender on education, with 6.6% of GDP.

This includes private and state spending, with tuition fees in England pushing up levels of private spending on education.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41229043

Labour seeks to derail tuition fee rise

September 12, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

GraduationImage copyright
PA

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Tuition fees are increasing to £9,250 and then again the following year

Labour is forcing a vote in the House of Commons in a bid to prevent an increase in tuition fees in England.

Fees are due to rise to £9,250 this year and then again to more than £9,500 for next year.

Labour is tabling a motion for Wednesday that would reverse the tuition fee increase – with the claim that the outcome would be binding.

But the Department for Education says that even if the government lost the vote “this motion has no legal effect”.

Labour is attempting to use parliamentary process to block the tuition fee increases which are due to be implemented for students from this autumn.

Parliamentary tactics

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, is seeking to revoke the “statutory instrument” process that will raise fees.

She said that fee increases would push up costs for students and warned that MPs who backed raising fees “will have to answer to the people they represent”.

“They won’t even trust their own MPs to back their latest hike in student fees, so they’re trying to stop us voting on it at all,” said Ms Rayner.

The House of Commons authorities say that there is a 40-day limit to force a vote on this and this has been exceeded.

But Labour says that it has not been allowed any opportunity until now in the parliamentary timetable to put forward its opposition and as such the result would remain binding.

Labour is threatening to mount a legal challenge if the government loses on the fee increase vote and then disregards the outcome.

A Labour spokesman suggested that a legal challenge would argue that ministers were acting beyond their powers if they were to press ahead with a fee increase after a parliamentary defeat.

“It would be unthinkable for the House of Commons to pass such a clear resolution and for the government not to immediately act on the clear will of the House.

“Any attempt to charge fees in those circumstances is bound to end up in the courts,” he said.

But the House of Commons’ authorities have rejected the claim that Labour’s motion could be binding – and said it would be up to ministers to decide how to respond to the outcome of the vote.

“A resolution of this nature adopted by the House would have no statutory effect and would not have any consequence in law for the regulations,” said a House of Commons spokesman.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “This motion has no legal effect. Our student finance system ensures that graduates only start paying back their loans when they are earning over £21,000 and debts are written off after 30 years.

“This approach ensures that costs are split fairly between graduates and the taxpayer, and does this while helping more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university than ever before, up 43% since 2009.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41246661

Citizens Advice calls for Universal Credit ‘pause’

September 12, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

JobcentreImage copyright
PA

A charity has called for a suspension in the expansion of a major benefit reform because it says families risk being pushed into a spiral of debt.

Citizens Advice said those under the Universal Credit system were more likely to struggle with priority debts.

But the government said the system offered extra support and that budgeting and financial help was available.

Universal Credit merges six existing benefits into one.

These include tax credits, housing benefit, income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and employment and support allowance. By 2022, more than seven million households will receive Universal Credit – at least half of which will be in work.

A major rollout of the scheme begins soon, following a series of delays. The system was originally scheduled to be fully in place this year.

Citizens Advice analysed 52,075 cases that it had seen, and concluded that those on Universal Credit would, on average, appear to have fewer than £4 per month left to pay all their creditors after they had paid essential living costs.

This compared with £16.25 per month for people in receipt of the individual benefits under the old system.

‘Stubborn approach’

A six-week wait for an initial payment, processing delays, and budgeting difficulties were suggested as the key causes of difficulty for those on Universal Credit, it said.

“The roll-out of Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.

“While the principles behind Universal Credit are sound, our evidence shows that if the government continues to take this stubborn approach to the expansion of Universal Credit, it risks pushing thousands of families into a spiral of debt, and placing an even greater strain on public services.

“Government can help protect these households by taking the simple step of pausing Universal Credit and fixing the underlying problems, so families are less likely to fall into arrears.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman, who pointed out that the Citizens Advice research was based on those with debts, not benefits claimants as a whole, said: “We are committed to helping people improve their lives and raise their incomes.

“Universal Credit does that by providing additional, tailored support not available under the old benefit system, including more help for those in work so they can eventually stop claiming benefits altogether, and under Universal Credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the previous system.

“The vast majority of claimants are comfortable managing their money, and for anyone who needs extra help, we have budgeting advice and benefit advances.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41226942

Some students have £10,000 gambling debt, say Gambling Commission

September 12, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Media caption‘Students are vulnerable to gambling’

Some students have run up gambling debts of £10,000 or more, a Gambling Commission director has told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Ben Haden said his organisation was concerned about the impact gambling was having on undergraduates.

Former student Matt Zarb-Cousin told the BBC: “One day I lost about £2,500 just on [gambling] machines. I came very close to taking my own life.”

The Association of British Bookmakers declined to comment on the findings.

Mr Haden added: “Clearly with the raft of new students heading to uni at this time of year we should do more for the student population.”

The Gambling Commission is calling for more advice and guidance to help prevent students from becoming hooked.

It wants universities to provide the same level of information and support about the risks from gambling as they do for drugs, alcohol and safe sex.

A government review due this autumn will look at fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) – now common on high streets – and children’s access to gambling.

Student discounts

The Commission appointed research agency YouthSight to conduct an online survey of 1,000 people.

The results suggested that three out of five students had gambled in the four weeks before they responded to the August survey.

If the results were reflected across the UK, the Gambling Commission said that just over 100,000 students may be in some form of gambling debt.

Furthermore, one in eight undergraduates surveyed said they had missed lectures or seminars because of gambling.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency said there were 1.7 million undergraduates in the UK in 2016.

The Victoria Derbyshire programme found one of the UK’s biggest casino brands, Grosvenor Casinos, runs a student poker league and offers free drinks and student discounts at casinos.

A spokeswoman for Grosvenor Casinos said it takes issues relating to problem gambling very seriously.

She added: “We would never encourage anyone to use casinos or gambling as a source of income or as a way of escaping debt.”

Meanwhile, Gala Bingo targets students by setting up stalls at some freshers’ fairs at universities.

This type of marketing is legal and 18-year-olds are allowed to gamble, but anti-gambling groups want universities to clamp down on it.

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Mr Zarb-Cousin, who now works for Fairer Gambling, which campaigns over gambling legislation, said: “I was at university and I maxed out numerous overdrafts, student loans.

“All the money I could get my hands on went into the machines [fixed odds betting terminals]. One day I lost about £2,500 just on the machines.

“I came very close to taking my own life at that point. I didn’t really see a way out.”

He added: “I think it’s really important that universities are aware of the problem within their own university, like how many of their students are addicted and aware of how big a problem it is, and therefore what’s needed to address it.”

A 24-year-old, who got into gambling at university, said: “It went from spending a few days after coming home from lectures and going on to my laptop to suddenly saying no to going out with friends, maybe saying no to going to uni.

“I think you can be very vulnerable.

“I’d never budgeted before and money was a whole new concept to me.”

Watch the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41226348