Dear Editor, Alex Miller (Post letters, December 23) claims that my example of someone on £22,000 per year paying £90 per year for the graduate contribution is “inaccurate”.
I can assure him that 30x90 is accurately £2,700. What is true is that earnings are likely to go up each year and the threshold of £21,000 will be increased with earnings. Hence someone earning the equivalent of £1,000 above the threshold each year will pay £90 per year for 30 years, which is £2,700.
The proposal with the progressive graduate contribution is that the subsidy that goes generally now to all graduates is concentrated on those who earn less.
I believe that this is entirely in accordance with the principles that I espouse of ensuring equality of opportunity regardless of parental wealth.
It would be nice if we could put more general taxation into the system to reduce the graduate contribution, but the manifesto I stood on only offered the phasing out of tuition fees over more than one parliament. This cuts the costs for 25 per cent of graduates who start studying from 2012. What is key is that the graduate contribution is driven primarily by the income of the graduate. The marginal rates of taxation of those paying the contribution at 29 per cent, 49 per cent and 59 per cent are much like those I paid when I graduated of 30 per cent and 60 per cent.
I accept that the EMA is an important issue for a number of sixth formers. That is why I welcome the Government’s tripling of the discretionary fund available for these costs and have been pushing for the Government to provide more funding in this area.
I also accept that the vast majority (say 98 per cent) of the students protesting have been non-violent and not destructive and most are concerned about those poorer than them. However, those that occupied my office continued to do this after they were warned that they were hurting people who were economically and politically more weak than themselves and that is not acceptable. It is the responsibility of protestors to steward protests, not the task of the police who have to pick up the pieces when organisers do not fulfil their responsibilities.
(Lib Dem, Yardley)