First case of UK employment tribunal recognising foster care workers as employees


, , ,

  • Case is a massive step forward for the rights of Foster Care workers

  • The tribunal ruled that the level of control and mutuality of obligations meant that James and Christine Johnstone were clearly employees

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has won a landmark employee status case and the first case the union is aware of of foster care workers being recognised as employees by a UK tribunal.

Following a preliminary hearing in June, the Glasgow Employment tribunal ruled today that the level of control and mutuality of obligations meant that James and Christine Johnstone were clearly employees. It also found that the council was enforcing contractual obligations by their “no work, no pay” policy.

This marks a massive step forward for the rights of this group of workers that look after some of the most vulnerable children in our society.

Foster care workers in the UK, while paid by local authorities to look after children, had so far not been recognized as workers nor employees, denying them basic rights such as protection from unfair dismissal and protection for whistleblowing.

This is a massive victory for employment rights for foster care workers in the UK,” said IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee. “We would encourage Glasgow City Council to accept the decision and take immediate steps to rectify their unlawful behaviour. Other local authorities should take note.”

As austerity continues to bite on local authority budgets, the amount being allocated to foster care workers is shrinking, adding more strain on these carers and the children they look after. But despite the difficulties they face, their lack of employment status had so far precluded them from seeking redress through channels that are open to workers or employees.

The IWGB launched the Foster Care Workers Branch in September 2016, with the broad objective of achieving employment rights for foster care workers across the UK.



Jeremy Hunt’s misleading mental health claims


, , ,



The government has announced a £1.3bn plan to expand the mental health workforce with a “challenging” recruitment drive.

The aim is to help the NHS care for an additional one million patients by 2020-21, according to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

We put his claims to the FactCheck test.

Are nurse numbers really on the rise?

Speaking to the BBC about the mental health plans, Hunt invited people to “look at our track record”.

He claimed: “We do have 6,000 more people in nursing … The actual numbers of people working in the health service are going up.”

At first glance, the latest NHS figures appear to support the gist of this claim.

When the Conservatives came to office in May 2010, there were 280,950 nurses and health visitors in the NHS, overall. That number had risen to 285,893 by March this year.

That’s around 5,000 more nurses – not the 6,000 Hunt claimed, but an increase nonetheless.

total-nurses-finalHowever, Hunt’s announcement was about mental health recruitment, and these figures cover all aspects of the NHS. Only a small proportion of these nurses work in mental health.

If we look specifically at mental health nurses, the number has actually gone down. The workforce has been reduced by 12 per cent since May 2010.

mental-health-nursesIt is also worth bearing in mind that these figures only represent the number of nurses, rather than the nurse-to-patient ratio.

While we don’t have figures for every patient who sees a nurse, there is evidence that mental health nurses in NHS hospitals are seeing their caseloads rise.

Admissions rose by an estimated 8,853 (7.5 per cent) between 2011/12 and 2015/16 and bed days went up by 4,532 (22 per cent).

Are enough nurses being trained?

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Hunt said: “In the case of mental health nursing, we have 8,000 nurses in training at the moment. If we can get them all to work in mental health, that would be a 22 per cent increase.”

We’re not certain how this figure for the number of nurses in training has been calculated. The Department for Health told us that the number of nurses in training was provided to them by Health Education England (HEE). HEE has not responded to our request for confirmation yet, but we will update this when they do.

However, even if this figure is right, there are a number of major flaws with Hunt’s logic.

First of all, Hunt assumes that all mental health nursing students will immediately get jobs as mental health nurses in the NHS. But this sounds like wishful thinking.

Even the universities that advertise training don’t claim that absolutely all of their students get jobs within six months of leaving. Some may go on to further study, switch to a different type of nursing, work in the private sector, or even get an entirely different job.

The health secretary might reasonably rely on most of these students getting jobs as mental health nurses pretty quickly. But the idea that 100 per cent of them will also seems unrealistic.

Secondly – and more significantly – it assumes that no one who currently works as a mental health nurse will leave, retire, or switch jobs. Again, this would obviously not be the case.

Indeed, the HEE has warned about staff retention issues in nursing, saying that “there needs to be increased retention of new graduates and
current staff”.

A report said the NHS should “make improving retention and staff engagement a key strategy”.

It added: “It is less expensive to retain the nurses than to recruit, train and place new ones. Many healthcare providers struggle to fill nursing vacancies and need to develop robust nurse retention strategies to prevent further nurses leaving … Retention strategies are likely to be significantly cheaper than recruitment strategies.”

Hunt’s optimism assumes that the flow of new trainees will continue in future years.

But there has actually been a slump in applications to study nursing and midwifery: they dropped by 23% after the government scrapped NHS bursaries.



JSA Maximum Sanction Increases To Three Years From October 22nd


, ,


Changes to the sanction regime for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants have been voted through in a parliamentary select committee, which will see the maximum sanction length for JSA claimants raised to three years from October 22nd. The shortest sanction length will also be increased from one to four weeks. ESA claimants see a new sanction regime come into force on December 3rd, with a maximum of four weeks sanction, and the amount being sanctioned raised to 70% of their ESA payments.

The new JSA regime changes how sanctions are applied with three different levels attracting different lengths of sanctions.  Lower level sanctions, including missing appointments at the job centre or workfare provider will see claimants left without money for four weeks in for the first offence and 13 weeks for the second. So if you are 9 minutes late for an appointment because a job interview ran long, you’ll have no money for one or three months.

Intermediate level sanctions also attract four then 13 week sanctions, but it is not detailed what this is for, except that they follow a period of disallowance.

Higher level sanctions are for the supposedly worst offences such as being unable take part in Mandatory Work Activity, or failing to apply for a job. The first will be 13 weeks, then 6 months and finally 3 years. If someone gets a job for 6 months, then any remaining sanction will be written off. So if you get an interview, and start MWA late so you can prepare for and attend it, you could find yourself sanctioned for 4 months, 6 months or 3 years.
The Social Security Advisory Committee has said that sanctions for MWA were already disproprtionate (PDF, section 4.16). Now they are being increased.

With half a million sanctions having been handed out in 2011, it is clear that many people will get sanctioned, leaving them without money for food or bills. The increase of the minimum sanction length to four weeks is as much of a concern as the new 3 year maximum, and will no doubt see more people needing the services of food banks to keep their children fed.

All of this is in preparation for the introduction of Universal Credit, which will also see part time and low income workers caught up in the sanction and conditionality regime, further increasing the scope for creating destitution and extreme poverty. It is not clear if the sanctions regime will change again when Universal Credit starts.

But the Tories say this is not a problem, because Hardship Loans (maximum £42/week) will be available for people sanctioned, which will be repayable from benefits, leaving people with even less money to live off after their sanction ended.

All this will see more people turning to legal loan sharks like Wonga, who have seen a 269% increase in their profits in the past year alone, leaving more and more people in positions of spiralling debts they cannot pay off.

There is also a problem with housing benefit, and whether people with longer sanctions will have problems with proving they are eligible if they have any problems with their claim. In Birmingham, Sifa Fireside, who work with homeless and vulnerably housed people, say “housing benefit is increasingly suspended if people are being sanctioned by Job Centre Plus“. This problem can only increase with longer sanctions in place, leaving people at even greater risk of homelessness.

These sanctions are not just punitive, they look to be about hounding people off benefits entirely, without regard for what happens to them. They will not help anyone to find work, nor create the jobs that would be needed for everyone to be able to get a job. They will however reduce the claimant count, allowing the government to claim unemployment is falling.

These are the details of the new sanctions regime, taken from DWP change implementation documents sent to us:


Sanction  level: Low Level

  • Failure to Attend any Mandatory Interview (this includes NJWFI, Flexible Intervention, Work Programme Referral interview)
  • Failure to undertake Work Related Activity

Sanction Length: Sanctions are unlimited, benefits will be restored when someone has “re-engaged” with the programme, and will then be followed by:

First sanction: 1 week; Second sanction is 2 weeks and further sanctions will be 4 weeks. The level of sanction will also increase to 70% of payments.

This comes into effect on December 3rd 2012.


Sanction Level: Lower

  • Failure to attend adviser interview
  • Failure to participate without good reason in Employment, Skills and Enterprise (ESE) Schemes
  • Failure to comply with Jobseeker Direction
  • Neglect to avail of place on programme or training course
  • Refuse, fail to attend or lose through misconduct a place on a programme or training course

First sanction is 4 weeks, second is 13 weeks.

Sanction Level: Intermediate

Only applied following a  new claim within a certain period

Follows disallowance for available/actively seeking work

First sanction: 4 weeks, second sanction: 13 weeks

Sanction Level: Higher

  • “Leaving a Job Voluntarily
  • Losing a Job Through Misconduct
  • Failure to participate without good reason in Mandatorw Work Activity Scheme
  • Negelct to avial of employment opportunity
  • Refuse or fail to apply for a job

First sanction: 13 weeks, Second sanction: 26 weeks, Third sanction 156 weeks (3 years).

Follows disallowance for available/actively seeking work


These are scans of the letters now being given to jobseeker’s informing them of the changes:



52 sentences that will help you through Yorkshire Day!


, ,


‘Ear all, see all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt.


1. “Be reight.” – I’m so desperately sorry to hear of the awful time you’re going through, but I have faith and hope that things will sort themselves out.

2. “‘Ey up!” – How the devil are you, old friend?

3. “Yer brew’s mashin’.” – This exceedingly strong and exceptionally tasty cup of Yorkshire Tea will be with you shortly.

4. “It’s chuffin’ roastin’ out.” – It is March bank holiday and therefore I will not need my coat until October.

5. “Bagsy ‘avin a croggy!” – I’m now officially the first person to be allowed a ride on the back of your bicycle.

6. “‘Ow much?” – Do you really mean to tell me that I won’t get change from a tenner for this round?

7. “‘Eez int’bog.” – He’s visiting the lavatory at the present moment.

8. “That’s proper champion, that, lad.” – My dear child, I’ve frankly never been more proud of you.

9. “Gi’us a butty.” – Please may I have one of those delightful looking cheese-and-pickle sandwiches?

10. “Gi’us a chuddy.” – Please may I have some chewing gum? Those cheese-and-pickle sandwiches seem to have given me slightly putrid breath.

11. “Gi’or, yer too cack-‘anded.” – Look, just let me take over the preparation of this Yorkshire pudding mix, you’re frankly too clumsy to be trusted with it.

12. “I’m chuffed t’bits wi’ that.” – This is quite possibly the best news I’ve ever received.

13. “That ruddy whippet ‘as took me cap down snicket!” – I say, that darned stereotypical northern dog has taken off with my equally stereotypical choice of headgear down a narrow alleyway.

14. “Ahm fair t’middlin’.” – I’m not doing too badly, thanks.

15. “Ahm nobbut middlin’.” – I’m doing pretty badly, actually.

16. “‘E’s in fine fettle.” – He’s doing very well by all accounts – must have had a smashing trip to Skeggy.

17. “Tha’ knows.” – You understand, do you not?

18. “Tha’ll get a clip rahnd lug’oil if tha’ carries on like this.” – If you don’t stop with this fake Yorkshire accent nonsense, I’ll smack you in the head.

19. “Mind you visit yer nan this weekend, she’s getting reight mardy.” – Be sure to take the time to visit your grandma this weekend, she’s starting to get a bit annoyed with you.

20. “‘Appen ‘e’ll quit his mitherin’ if you buy ‘im a Landlord.” – Perhaps he’ll stop complaining so much if you get him a decent pint.

21. “Nah, ‘e’s allus mitherin’ about summat.” – That seems unlikely, he’s always complaining about something.

22. “Eeh, yer daft ha’peth.” – My god, you fool, you’ve made quite the mistake here.

23. “Stop nebbin’ in me diary, buggerlugs.” – Kindly stop prying into my private affairs, you idiot.

24. “Na’than thee, ‘ow’s tha’ lass?” – Why, hello, my friend, how the devil is your wife?

25. “Put wood in t’ole! Was tha’ born in a barn?” – Please shut the door. Where the dickens were you brought up that you think it’s OK to sit in a draft?

26. “Eeh, yer reight nesh.” – A draft? There’s no draft, you’re just a big southern softie who can’t handle a bit of cold.

27. “‘Ow do, my love?” – Why hello, m’lady.

28. “Tarra, ducky.” – I’m a bus driver/your grandmother/both, and I’m wishing you an affectionate farewell.

29. “There’s nowt s’queer as folk.” – People are truly, properly weird.

30. “‘Owt’s better than nowt.” – Well, it’s not quite the Sean Bean life-sized cutout I was hoping for, but I suppose this poster of him will do.

31. “‘E’s neither use nor ornament.” – That gentlemen serves quite literally no purpose on this earth.

32. “Where there’s muck, there’s brass.” – One can make a small fortune if one is willing to engage in dirty work.

33. “Did I ‘eckers like!” – Did I bunk off work to buy Def Leppard tour tickets? My god, of course not!

34. “Near as makes n’ matter.” – Well, it’s not quite a Yorkshire pudding of my mother’s standard, but let’s be real: All Yorkshire puddings are a thing of joy, so let’s not quibble.

35. “Eeh I’ll go t’foot of stairs!” – It’s snowing in May? My goodness, I’m really quite surprised by this turn of events.

36. “Eez nobbutta babbi.” – He’s only a small child, leave him be.

37. “Think on, soft lad.” – You’ll come to remember my advice one day, you foolish boy.

38. “That’s a threp in’t steans.” – Ain’t that a kick in the nuts.

39. “Sit thissen dahn, tha’s bin laikin all day.” – Sit down, you’ve been out playing all day and frankly, that can be exhausting.

40. “Ah reckon nowt ter that.” – I don’t think much of your advice to stop drinking after five pints. What the devil is wrong with you?

41. “‘E’s on pot duty.” – He’s doing the dishes tonight.

42. “And ahm ‘appy as a pig in muck.” – And I’m really quite pleased about that.

43. “Eeh, it’s black o’er Will’s mother’s.” – It looks like it’s about to piss it down over there.

44. “Wang it o’er.” – Please toss me that chunk of Wensleydale so that I can gnaw on it like an animal.

45. “It’s like Blackpool bloody illuminations in ‘ere.” – I am your father and it is my responsibility to remind that you have left one light on in the house.

46. “‘E’s soft int’ed.” – That young man isn’t especially smart.

47. “If tha’s ‘ad beef dripping for dinner tha’s not ‘avin’ a chippy tea.” – If you had a delicious hot midday meal, you’re certainly not being treated to chips for your evening meal.

48. “Tha’ meks a better door than window.” – Please could you get out of the way of the television so I can finish watching Corrie, you careless lump?

49. “‘E’s a reight bobby dazzler.” – Alex Turner really scrubs up nicely when he’s in a suit, no?

50. “‘Supwier?” – What the heck is wrong with that woman?

51. “Tin tin tin.” – That giant rocket firework you were planning to detonate? It’s not in the designated tin.

52. “Eeh by gum!” – I’m from London and I think I’m pretty funny right now.



Councils ‘should be shamed into action’ on taxi access laws


, , , ,


Doug Paulley

A disability activist has called on disabled people to shame their local councils into action, after his research showed more than a quarter had no plans to take one simple step that would protect wheelchair-users who use taxis from discrimination.

On 6 April, the government finally brought into force legislation that imposes fines of up to £1,000 on drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles who refuse to accept wheelchair-users, try to charge them extra, or fail to provide them with appropriate assistance.

But the new laws only apply in those areas of England, Scotland and Wales where the local authority has drawn up a list – under section 167 of the Equality Act – of all the wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in their area.

The government has been encouraging councils to start drawing up such lists for the last seven years.

But three months of research* by disabled campaigner Doug Paulley – including freedom of information requests sent to all 366 licensing authorities, and the exchange of thousands of emails – shows that only 11 per cent of licensing authorities have so far introduced a section 167 list, with another 30 per cent planning to introduce a list this year, in line with government guidance.

But he found that 18 per cent of local authorities were still undecided on whether to produce a list, while more than a quarter (26 per cent) had no plans to set one up, and another 15 per cent planned to produce a list but had no particular deadline.

He concludes in his research that “serious flaws” in the legislation mean that it is currently of “little benefit to wheelchair users in most areas of the country”.

He added: “It is disappointing that the government’s intent in bringing in this legislation is being undermined by the failure of many councils to undertake the required office work, meaning that taxi drivers can continue to discriminate against wheelchair users with impunity.”

Paulley, whose work has been supported by the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, called on disabled people and their allies to raise the issue with their local councils.

He told Disability News Service (DNS): “Councils have known this was coming since the law was enacted in 2010.”

He said the bureaucratic work was “not unduly onerous” for councils and all they had to do was “put the list together in the required format and shove it on their website.

“I fail to see what is difficult about this, or any good reason not to do it. Why can’t they just get on with it?”

He added: “Lots of councils haven’t got any idea what a section 167 list does.

“Simply forcing them to understand that the only effect of a section 167 list is to put drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis under a duty not to discriminate against wheelchair users can often have the desired effect; as can explaining that the council still needs to produce a list even if all of their taxis are accessible, or very few of their taxis are accessible, or indeed that their existing ‘voluntary list’ doesn’t do the job.”

He is hoping that raising the profile of the issue will convince MPs and peers to take it up in parliament.

Previous research by Muscular Dystrophy UK has suggested that a quarter of disabled people have been refused service by a taxi driver because of their impairment.

The Department for Transport (DfT) refused to say if ministers were disappointed by the number of licensing authorities that have set up section 167 lists so far.

But a DfT spokesman said in a statement: “We brought this law into force to ensure that passengers in wheelchairs can use taxi and private hire vehicles, free from the fear of discrimination and in the knowledge that the assistance they require will be provided.

“We have been talking to councils about their role implementing this legislation and have issued them with guidance to support them.

“We recognise some authorities will need time to bring in the policy change and intend to speak to them again soon reminding of their role bringing in the new rules.”

In his research, Paulley contrasts the situation for wheelchair-users in areas like Sheffield – which has had a ‘voluntary’ list of accessible taxis for decades, where all licensed taxis are wheelchair-accessible and drivers have to undertake disability awareness training, and which implemented section 167 on the day it was commenced in April – with others like Spelthorne, in Surrey.

Spelthorne council has told Paulley it has no plans to implement section 167, does not force drivers to undertake disability awareness training and has only two wheelchair-accessible taxis licensed in the whole borough.

Dawn Morrison, communications and licensing manager for Spelthorne council, told DNS that the council had decided not to set up a list because there were only two wheelchair-accessible taxis in the borough, and one of the drivers was currently ill and not working and the other was fully-booked with regular disabled customers, and so “the risk of them refusing fares is non-existent”.

Paulley has previously told the council that “having insufficient wheelchair accessible taxis makes it more important to take this simple measure to ensure that the drivers don’t discriminate against wheelchair users”.

Morrison said the council offered half-price licensing fees for wheelchair-accessible vehicles and had tried to persuade the industry “that there is a demand out there”.

She said: “I do feel we can be doing more but we do not have the large operators we can reason with.”

She agreed that the council did not have an impressive record, but added: “We don’t want to be over-burdensome at a time when they are struggling to compete with Uber.

“We will look at it again. I will speak to the licensing officers. It is maybe something that can be taken forward.”

*Paulley’s research data, showing which councils have failed to draw up a section 167 list, can be found on his blog  

Dave Gibson’s funeral


, , ,


Hello all,

Apologies for any cross posting – this information has gone out very widely but I wanted to make sure that any of you who knew Dave through his work with Stand up to Racism in Barnsley are kept informed.

Many of you are probably aware that Dave, who had been battling cancer for several months, died suddenly about 10 days ago.  Dave was secretary of Barnsley Trades Council and a lifelong campaigner against racism and injustice and for a society where everyone can live together in solidarity and peace.  He was very active in our SUTR group and spoke at many of our rallies and meetings.

Dave’s funeral will be at Barnsley Crematorium, Ardsley at 10.50 till 12 next Thursday August 3rd. There will be an memorial celebration at the Civic from 12.30 till 5.

Dave’s partner Kate and her daughter Christie have requested no flowers. Dave was single minded in opposing racism and made sure that ran through every campaign he was involved in. Because of that it is requested that any donations should be made to Stand Up To Racism. If people want to post cheques they should be made payable to Stand Up To Racism and can be posted to SUTR, PO Box 72710, London SW19 9GX.

There will also be a box to accept donations at the memorial celebration in the Civic.

Kate would like people to attend the crematorium and the Civic in whatever clothes they feel mark the occasion whether that is trade union or campaign t-shirts or casual wear or whatever.

The memorial celebration will be in the main auditorium at the Civic, Barnsley where tables and chairs will be set out. For those not sure the main entrance is via Mandela Gardens, off Regent Street.

Dave was someone who did not like cucumber sandwiches etc so the buffet will be a selection of snacks. If anyone would like to bring something along to add to the buffet please let Christie know in advance by emailing her on christie.burlandupton@gmail. com

The Civic bar will be open (you have to buy your own drinks!)

The memorial celebration will be informal. There will be an open mike and people will be welcome to come up speak about their memories of Dave or, if that will be too emotional, bring a written piece that can be read out for you. In between, some of Dave’s favourite music will be played while everyone has a chance to mingle and talk. There will also be a display of photos showing Dave’s trade union and political campaigning. If you can only come for part of the time please do that.

If you cannot come to the funeral, you can send messages to Kate by email to:

These can be read out or added to the memorial book which will be at the Civic event.

I hope some of you will be able to join the celebration of Dave’s life and work on Thursday.

In solidarity,

Fran Postlethwaite

“Robin Hood Tax” Report Launch Event with the Labour Party


, ,


Christians on the Left supports the introduction of the “Robin Hood Tax” or an FTT (Financial Transaction Tax) and has worked in Partnership with the Robin Hood Tax Campaign for many years.

Tuesday July 18th saw the release of a milestone report in the campaign for an FTT that would benefit the whole of the UK. John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor was there to introduce Professor Avinash Persaud (author of the report) along with Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow City Minister and Chair of Christians on the Left. Daniel May-Miller and Andy Flannagan were also there from CotL to find out and report on what all the excitement was about…

Download and Read the full, easily digestible report here. Surprisingly well written, with depth and detail on how and why the tax will work, yet understandable by almost anyone.


Tory hypocrisy on student debt knows no bounds


, ,


Don’t believe the media lies, it is Corbyn’s Labour that cares about obscene levels of student debt, writes KEN LIVINGSTONE

DESPITE a media frenzy of misrepresentation fuelled by the Tories, polling this week confirmed that only 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds interpreted Jeremy Corbyn’s comments to “deal with” historic student debt as promising a full write-off.

Do the tabloid journalists and Tory MPs who over the last few weeks have been again and again stoking an argument about student debt — and are desperately, even now, trying to keep the row going — care in the slightest about student debt and spiralling tuition fees?

The answer of course is no. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, especially as Corbyn is the only leader of the major parties who stands unequivocally for free education, and despite recent media rumours of divisions on the issue, the Tories have made no commitment to even keep tuition fee rises and student debt levels under control.

We should be clear that in stark contrast to Theresa May’s Tories, Jeremy can be 100 per cent trusted on this issue and has an outstanding record.

Myself, Tony Benn and Jeremy were among those MPs who rebelled against Tony Blair’s decision to introduce tuition fees in 1998.

I remember speaking alongside student campaigners for free education who rightly warned that the New Labour government’s decision was the thin end of the wedge when it came to passing the costs of education on to students themselves.

There was something particularly angering about seeing MPs who had themselves benefited from a free university education voting to take away the ladder of opportunity for future generations, and many of those who have attacked Jeremy in recent weeks in the political elite fall into the same category.

Last year’s further rise in tuition fees from the Tories showed how the principled position of arguing for investment in free education has been proven correct time and again, and these rises came at time when England has become one of the most expensive places to study in the world — students are graduating with an average debt of over £50,000.

Indeed, Andrew Adonis (who was director of the No 10 policy unit under Blair) recently analysed how the situation has got so far out of control, writing: “How did we get from the idea of a reasonable contribution to the cost of university tuition — the principle of the Blair reform of 2004, for which I was largely responsible — to today’s Frankenstein’s monster of £50,000-plus debts for graduates on modest salaries who can’t remotely afford to pay back these sums while starting families?”

While there has been much discussion, and rightly so, about the effect of crippling levels of student debt on individuals, too often missing from the debate over tuition fees over the last 19 years has been a discussion on the central role higher education could play in promoting long-term prosperity for the British economy and growth in the future.

As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development put it in 2010: “Even after taking account of the cost to the public Exchequer of financing degree courses, higher tax revenues and social contributions from people with university degrees make tertiary education a good long-term investment.”

Indeed, free education would pay for itself. The government’s own figures show that for every £1 invested in higher education, the economy expands by £2.60.

The rewards of investing in free higher education couldn’t be higher — both in that we need to invest in education to give young people the chance to fulfil their potential and in that we need to invest in education to ensure Britain has a highly skilled, high-growth economy in the long term.

This would especially be the case if such investment was alongside investment in technology and infrastructure.

As the Nobel prize-winning economist and former head of the World Bank Professor Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, “investments in technology, education and infrastructure … will stimulate the economy and create jobs in the short run and promote growth and debt reduction in the long run.”

Indeed, Germany has scrapped tuition fees in recent years — proving that free education is possible.

And of course, if the government genuinely clamped down on tax avoidance, or made the 1 per cent pay their fair share, billions of pounds would be made available to fund free education and other vital public services such as the NHS.

The scale of the Tories’ tax giveaways for the years ahead is massive.

According to Treasury and Office for Budget Responsibility figures, they will cost the Exchequer £65 billion over the four years from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour are quite right to insist these resources should instead be used to invest in Britain’s future.

We mustn’t let the Tories and their media mogul mates distract us from the key issues in the months ahead as they throw every smear and misrepresentation in our direction in a bid to keep Labour out of power, including in this area.

Let’s be 100 per cent clear: only Labour and Jeremy Corbyn in government will invest in our future — including investing in free education to benefit our economy and society.