Campaigning for free school meals in Southampton
Campaigning for free school meals in Southampton

Eoin Williams, Southampton West Socialist Party 

For students, the elation of results day has started to wear off, as applications for student loans are put in, and deposits for halls of residence and rented flats are paid out. To many young people, this is their first taste of facing a capitalist world alone.

I am starting university later this month. Many of my friends are already feeling the pinch before even starting.

The maximum amount given out from a maintenance loan is only £8,171 per year. That’s around half a minimum wage salary. The average UK student now owes £45,000 at graduation.

Students aren’t the only young people who are struggling in Southampton. The local council is cutting the city budget by £35 million. Young people will be among the hardest hit by these cuts.

As part of the Labour council’s ‘streamlining’ process, education and healthcare plans will be cut back. These are grants to young vulnerable people, and provide them with access to support, until they leave education or turn 25.

It’s the same old story. The government cuts back, and workers are left to pick up the pieces. Alone.

Doesn’t have to be this way

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Socialist Party supports the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) call for a new working-class alternative to the Labour Party, in the light of Keir Starmer abandoning Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies, including no longer supporting free university education.

In Southampton, the Socialist Party has a two-pronged plan to fight back – with campaigns for free university education, and an end to council cuts. We have been campaigning on our stalls, with leaflets for a free education at all ages, and an end to austerity cuts. And you can bet that we’ll be at every council scrutiny meeting to oppose all council cuts.

We call for living grants to replace student loans, and for the writing off of all student debt to enable working-class students to have truly equal opportunities. We fight for an end to all cuts and outsourcing of public services to private companies for profit, and for a socialist alternative that truly represents the working class.