This year the Tories are preparing a new, massive attack on students, which promise to be as regressive and damaging to the future of millions of people as the trebling of tuition fees has been - plotting to sell all our student loans to private debt collectors, who are hungry to make a profit out of saddling us with more debt than we signed up to. Students are, however, building a movement to stop the government in its tracks.
Britain is in the throes of a personal finance crisis. Dramatic figures out recently revealed that personal debt totals £1.43trillion and the average household debt is almost twice as high as a decade ago at £54,000. To some this would come as a surprise, but to many it is confirmation that they are not alone in their struggle.
I was born into a generation with the world at my fingertips, raised on the assumption that my financial prospects would be the same, if not greater, than those of my parents but instead the world we were told we could have, is out of reach; that career ladder we were all aiming to get on, is a high-chair away.
George Osborne has announced the Conservative Party would cut housing benefit for under-25s after the next election as part of £25billion spending cuts, removing a vital lifeline for many homeless young people who are already struggling financially. Such a move would be catastrophic for the 6,000 homeless young people Centrepoint supports each year.
If we were to judge the wellbeing of the nation by the changing skyline of the City of London or the number of designer handbags then we would be on the verge entering a new golden age. However this only tells one side of the story, the other is told by widespread political apathy, increasing household debts and the ever-growing queues at food banks and pay day loan companies.
Apart from maybe the big six energy companies, I don't know any type of business which gets more bad press than payday loan companies. Anyone you speak to - in the pub, on the school run or in the office - has an extremely negative view of them, yet as much as £1.8 billion is being lent a year by payday loan companies and some (yes you Wonga!) have interest rates as high as 5,853% APR. Disgraceful!
What could be more outrageous than the undemocratic trebling of tuition fees, or the fundamentally anti-working class policy of scrapping EMA, denying thousands of poorer students their chance at further and higher education? After the attacks on FEs, raising fees for adult learners and axing half a million places, where could the coalition sink to next?
Low income families are penalised by the poverty penalty that forces them to pay more for essential goods and services, because they are so often excluded from mainstream credit. This creates a cycle of debt and poverty, making it much harder for people to run a home, or in extreme circumstances, leaves them unable to afford the absolute basics such as beds and fridges. Unsurprisingly, the poorest and most vulnerable families are most likely to suffer from living in what are effectively "broken houses".
Payday Loans have become a hot topic and a regular feature in the British press week in, week out. The market has grown significantly and although the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have no official figures on exactly how much the sector is worth it estimated it at around £900 million in 2008 with Consumer Focus estimating the total value of loans made in 2009 at £1.2 billion.