Labour manifesto could pledge to write off student debts, John McDonnell suggests

Posted On: 
19th November 2019

Labour's election manifesto could contain a pledge to write off student debts John McDonnell has suggested.

John McDonnell confirmed Labour's vow to scrap tuition fees will be in the 2019 election manifesto

The Shadow Chancellor said the issue "has to be addressed" by government - just 48 hours before the party publishes its eagerly-anticipated prospectus for government.

His comments came just days after Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who helped draw up the manifesto, said it would see "student debt being lifted off our youth".

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Labour has already confirmed that it will scrap tuition fees if it wins the election on 12 December.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr McDonnell said ministers were already being forced to cancel some student debt because graduates are not able to pay it back.

"In terms of the system, the debt that has been piled up already, I've been trying to say to the Government they’ve got a problem here that we’ve all got to accept," he said.

"The system is not working. Large amounts of that debt is not being paid off and the Government is having to write it off.

“There is I think an approach that has to be taken that looks at existing debt and we will look at some of these issues in the coming weeks.”

Pressed on whether Labour will promise to cancel student debts, he added: “What I'm saying is, it has to be addressed by some form by whoever is in government, because the system - exactly as we predicted - is not working."

Before the 2017 election Jeremy Corbyn appeared to promise that a Labour government would write off all student debts, telling the NME: “I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively."

However, the policy - which has been estimated to cost more than £100bn - was not included in that year's manifesto.