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Clegg to unveil £7bn 'fairness premium'

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Next week’s spending review will include a £7bn “fairness premium” to help children from poorer families as they go through nursery, school and university, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will announce today.

The package will include free pre-school education for two-year-olds from disadvantaged households, a “pupil premium” providing extra cash while they are at school and a “student premium” to help them in higher education.

Mr Clegg is expected to say the moves will make the 20 October spending review - which is expected to include £83bn of cuts in state spending - into “an investment package for future fairness”.

Speaking at a junior school in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, today, Mr Clegg is expected to say that the way the government tackles the deficit will be “a test of the character of the coalition”.

Ministers have a “moral obligation” to shelter the next generation from the consequences of the debt run up in recent years, he will say. But he will argue that the spending review also provides an opportunity to boost fairness, social mobility and life chances for the poorest.

The new cash is expected to support children from the poorest 20% of families - those who are entitled to free school meals.

They will get 15 hours a week of free nursery education at two years old, on top of the 15 hours already available at the ages of three and four. And the pupil premium will direct additional money to their schools to fund targeted help to reduce educational inequalities.

It was not immediately clear how the student premium will operate. Its announcement comes just days after Lord Browne’s report recommended lifting the cap on tuition fees, with many universities expected to increase charges to £7,000 or more a year.

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