We cannot afford free education

Have your say

I AM surprised that Steven Watkins, as a head teacher, appears to believe that a student has to pay £9,000 in order to go to university (‘I couldn’t have gone to uni with these fees’, yep, March 21).

Is he not aware that the Government pays the tuition fees on behalf of each student and only asks him or her to start repaying this grant later, when in employment and earning £21,000 per year or more?

In the meantime no interest is paid on the grant and no pressure is put on the student to make any repayment.

A graduate would have to be earning £45,000 per year before he or she is paying more than under the last Labour government.

Of course it would be terrific for all education at all levels to be free but, alas, it cannot be afforded.

Conservative and Labour failures to regulate the banks meant that almost £900 billion had to be paid or guaranteed to the banks.

Then also add in the illegal invasion of Iraq, which cost £9.24 billion, in addition to the appalling cost in lives.

If the state were a limited company it would be trading whilst insolvent and up before the courts.

Whether the projects and services being cut are in principle worthwhile is not, alas, the issue – the question is whether they can currently be afforded.

Michael Meadowcroft, Hon Alderman, City of Leeds

Billions wasted

ROY Pearson’s latest rant, this time on the NHS, displays his usual amnesia for the facts, forgetting the 13 years of New Labour which bequeathed us with the state of the NHS today.

The old bogey is wheeled out – the NHS is not safe in Tory hands. Did Churchill, Macmillan, Heath, even Thatcher abolish the NHS? In the event, it is Labour who has betrayed the NHS.

Was it not a Labour government of 1945 that introduced the first prescription charges? And then, one Tony Blair, passionately building upon the Thatcher “internal market” for the NHS to give Foundation Trusts even more power to bring in private provision – nothing there that is different to the Coalition’s present plans.

There are many examples of “privatisation by stealth” under New Labour. Billions lost in Brown’s Private Finance Initiative hospital-building programme, that handed massive profits to private companies, grossly over budget and wasteful.

A study found NHS managers were wasting over £500 million by paying too much for drugs, making huge profits for private drug cartels at taxpayers’ expense.

The squandering went on and on, another £500 million on drug prescriptions nobody used. Shall we add to that “health tourism”, invited by Labour’s reckless open borders policy, free at the point of use, paid for by us?

Between 1997 and 2007, the number of managers in the NHS rose from 20,000 to 40,000 and at the same time, hospital beds fell from 250,000 to 180,000. Then, in truly Soviet-style bureaucracy, Labour employed armies of management consultants to oversee the same manager.

Labour’s quango mania reached staggering heights: some 40 or so in the NHS – duplication, red tape, waste – in fact John Reid axed most of what his government introduced.

Morale in the NHS reached rock bottom. In 2007, a poll of 3,000 doctors showed that 75 per cent did not see any real improvement following the billions wasted by Labour. As many as 55 per cent of senior doctors also said they themselves would not use the NHS if taken seriously ill.

The blinkered Left’s view of history is staggering. The NHS is no longer the “jewel in the crown”, but badly run from the top down, over-managed, grossly incompetent and wasteful, falling far, far behind other EU health systems.

The sorry spectacle of rising unnecessary deaths, especially among our elderly, privatisation by the back door, failing computer systems, hundreds of billions of our wealth thrown down a black hole in building Labour’s bungled New Jerusalem.

B Johnson, Burmantofts

Fat on NHS bone

WHEN you read in the YEP that NHS Wakefield can hire a troupe of dancers to publicise ‘No smoking day’ you realise there is a lot more fat on the NHS bone to cut. The Trust even has a salaried Stop Smoking Specialist Adviser. And remind me, wasn’t this the Trust that felt the national sexual health for young people website wasn’t enough and that Wakefield should commission its own? Which it did. In 13 languages.

A Mitchell, Swillington

Bureaucratic overkill

PHILIP Whitehead’s critique of a letter from Mr V Wood concerning the 2011 census, is rather tendentious. The general thrust of Mr Wood’s letter is the unnecessary and contradictory questions posed, contributing to a sense of bureaucratic overkill and appalling cost-effective ratio, with which most observers agree.

For instance, he is correct (unlike Mr Whitehead) in that several questions (26 to 30) about employment are asked, before asking respondents if they are retired. Surely cart before horse? Even then, why ask detailed job records from a pensioner who may have been retired 10-20 years?

A couple of interesting facts did emerge – 35,000 part-time workers checking 35 million, 32-page census forms – that’s 1,000 forms each. What prospect of detecting errors or fraudulent replies?

Mr Wood was incorrect in quoting the cost at £400 million. Latest official figures quote £485 million and, as we are well aware, official figures are often massaged and manipulated to spring figures that bungling bureaucrats hope will be more acceptable to the public.

Happily, this wasteful 10-year excess will be the last.

W Varley, Harrogate Road, Leeds

Serious blow for the disabled

NATIONAL and local disability policy has, for many years now, aimed to encourage the integration of people with disabilities into everyday living. It is right that people with disabilities are enabled to play an active role in their local communities, be independent, and enjoy the same rights and opportunities as non-disabled people.

The Government’s proposal to remove the mobility component from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people living in care homes completely contradicts this policy and risks substantially reducing the independence of people with disabilities who live in care homes.

The mobility component of DLA is used to help people who receive it get out and about. People with disabilities have higher transport costs and DLA is there to help them meet those costs. It helps, for instance, pay for accessible transport and mobility aids. Not receiving it would deny many vulnerable people access to every-day activities that most people take for granted. Activities such as meeting up with family and friends, attending a college course, or taking part in volunteering would for some no longer be viable.

The Government’s suggestion that local authorities should pick up any extra costs that people who lose the benefit might have is wholly unrealistic given the unprecedented scale of the reduction in government grant funding to local authorities. The reductions have left Leeds City Council with a £90m shortfall in our budget for 2011/12 alone.

Pushing ahead with this proposal would take us back to a time when people with disabilities are hidden away out of sight and out of mind. This is not a time I want to go back to and I have urged the Government to withdraw its proposal to avoid taking us there.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Executive Member – Adult Health and Social Care, Leeds City Council

Planning battle

I HAVE been reading with interest the stories about the housing developments along the A65.

I was involved last year in a similar battle when planning was requested for 40 houses to be built at the bottom of Greenlea Close, using the close as access.

It went to appeal and was taken to the inspector and then to London but still the development went through. They have already started developing the land.

As I understand it, everything hinged on the fact of Leeds’s five-year plan and the number of houses they agreed to build. It doesn’t matter about how many other houses have been built locally and have been left unsold. It certainly isn’t a problem that the roads can not cope with the additional traffic.

My experience last year left me frustrated and annoyed. When these houses are built and families move in which doctors will look after them? Where will their children go to school? I am a parent governor at Littlemoor Primary school and I know every year it is over-subscribed.

I feel that local people may have a say about developments but are never part of the decisions made by councils or Government.

Clare Jones, Greenlea Close, Yeadon

Don’t do half a job, Prime Minister

IN answer to A Britt, ditto, ditto, ditto on every point. Mr Cameron, read this letter, it tells you everything you should be doing. Punish the waste, note the people. If you save a thousand or two each week, it would be better than taking away the services from people, who as it is can barely afford to partake of these services because of the red tape involved.

This is what the voters want, Mr Cameron, it won’t be long before you are back on the re-election trail and you will be asking for our support before you can complete the job you wanted to do.

Don’t do half the job, only to see Labour take control and finish the job they set out to do. That is to bankrupt this country and hand over what’s left to the European Union.

L E Slack, Lingfield View, Leeds

MPs win, rest lose

WHY is Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ slashing public sector staff’s pensions by thousands when the same public sector workers are paying part of all MPs’ pensions, plus mortgate and second homes, water, gas, electricity, travel allowances and £400 per month for food?

They earn enough from us with all their expenses. They don’t need any wages.

I forgot to mention council tax as well.

M Mitchell, Beeston

YEP Letters: March 16