PM targets youth vote with tuition fees freeze and first time buyers boost

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Prime Minister Theresa May is targeting young voters with a tuition fee freeze and a £10 billion boost for first time buyers.

As the Tory conference opens in Manchester, the PM has pledged to "look again" at student finance after the party's disastrous general election showing.

Tuition fees will be frozen at the current £9,250 level until 2019, rather than increase with inflation by £250.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip arrive at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester
Theresa May and her husband Philip arrive at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The amount graduates can earn before making repayments will also rise from £21,000 to £25,000 under the plans.

The figure will then increase in line with earnings after next year, with the Tories saying the package will produce a saving of £360 in 2018/19 for graduates earning at least £25,000.

And in a bid to help young people get on the housing ladder Chancellor Philip Hammond is announcing a £10 billion expansion of the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme in order to aid 135,000 new purchasers.

Houses under construction
Many young people are struggling to buy a home (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mrs May said: "In my first speech on the steps of Downing Street, I set my Government a mission to make our country a fairer place.

"Today I announce the next steps in that mission - with more help for students and graduates with tuition fees and billions of pounds of investment that will help thousands more people get a home of their own.

"This country has world-class universities - and I am proud that more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are attending them than ever.

University graduates
The PM is trying to address concerns over the cost of a university education (Chris Radburn/PA)

"But we know that the cost of higher education is a worry, which is why we are pledging to help students with an immediate freeze in maximum fee levels and by increasing the amount graduates can earn before they start paying their fees back, amounting to a saving of £360 a year, while the Government looks again at the question of funding and student finance.

"Taken together, these are key parts of my plan to spread opportunity and build a better future for our country."

Mr Hammond said: "Young people are worried that life will be harder for them than it was for their parents - owning a home is a key part of that. This Government understands that for many people finding a deposit is still a very big hurdle.

"That's why we will invest an extra £10 billion in our Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme to help a whole new generation of young people, across the UK, with the upfront costs of home ownership.

"We're able to do this because of our balanced approach to the economy - dealing with our debt, while still investing in the future."