Commission on Social Justice: Minimum wage warning for Labour as party urged to adopt student loans: The benefits trap

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The Independent Online
Hugh Love, 35, his wife, Carol, and their four children Matthew, nine, Rachael, three, Gabriel, six and seven- year-old Jennifer are caught in the benefits trap, writes Glenda Cooper.

A year ago Hugh began a Higher National Diploma course in catering and institutional management at the University of Salford after failing to get employment in the hotel industry.

But he finds himself worse off than when he was on income support. The family from Manchester struggles to live on his grant of pounds 5,040, with the benefits they needed on income support taken away.

'There's no incentive to get on and make something of yourself,' Mr Love said. 'If the Government don't make it easier then people are not going to try. I wouldn't advise anyone to do what we've done.'

His wife said: 'If I'd seen what was coming, I'd never have let him do the course . . . Now we live on a student grant we don't get free school meals, free prescriptions, free dental treatment or a supplement for free playgroup places. I have to pay the council tax and we pay our rent now, although we get rebates from time to time.'

Mrs Love, 40, presently does some voluntary work for the Children's Society, but fears that if she took paid work, her husband's grant would be cut.

The commission's proposals for students to contribute to the cost of their education once they start earning would hit students thinking of following the example of the Love family. But eventually it is hoped the new social insurance system would offer support to people taking time out to study.

(Photograph omitted)

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