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Labour charade on student allowances exposed

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

2 May 2005

Labour charade on student allowances exposed

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says the number of students receiving student allowances has dropped by 3,000 since the same time last year.

"This comes despite Labour's promise in the 2004 Budget to increase the number of students qualifying for the allowance by 28,000.

"This completely unexpected drop shows up in the StudyLink figures for the first quarter of 2005.

"Either students don't know what they are entitled to or Labour has pulled a con job by promising a package they knew students wouldn't qualify for."

In the 2004 Budget, Labour abolished the Independent Circumstances Allowance, which was available to students who had been in the workforce for two years. Labour said it would use the savings to provide income tested allowances to an additional 28,000 students in 2005, and would increase allowances for a further 15,000 students.

Labour claimed the total package in the 2004 Budget would increase student allowances for 43,000 students at an annual cost of $65 million.

Mr English says this was a significant promise because in 2004, only 61,000 students picked up any student allowance.

"Labour saved $30 million by dropping the Independent Circumstances Allowance. This was supposed to help pay for a package worth $65 million in extra student allowances

"Students groups, which stayed silent while the Independent Circumstances Allowance was taken away, now know Labour was doing a deal with them in bad faith. Students have been cheated by a duplicitous government."

National has already signalled an interest in restoring the Independent Circumstances Allowance.

Ends

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