NUS Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to extend the new £150 cost-of-living payments to students who have been excluded from the scheme.
Students who live alone or share the rent with other students are exempt from council tax so will not receive the new payment – despite facing the same rise in household bills. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP confirmed that those exempt from council tax would not be eligible for the cost-of-living payments announced in the budget.
This is despite research showing the impact the rising cost of living is already having on students:
- NUS Scotland’s COVID survey found that 12 per cent of students used foodbanks during the pandemic
- The NUS / Unipol Accommodation Costs Survey found that student accommodation rent has risen 34 per cent in three years – rising faster than anywhere else in the UK
- Financial insecurity is also a leading cause of distress and mental ill health amongst students. Mental Health Foundation research has found that 22 per cent of students worried about running out of food and 24 per cent were eating less due to lack of money
Responding, NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly said:
“With inflation busting increases in our rents and more of us using foodbanks, I am utterly stunned that the Scottish Government has decided to exclude students from this new £150 payment.
“Students face the same energy bill hikes as everyone else, but our support doesn’t increase by the cost-of-living and many of us receive no support whatsoever during the summer. The Finance Secretary must extend the payment to students.
“We’re scunnered: after two years of disrupted education, MSPs passed a budget yesterday with real-terms cuts to our learning, no increase in student support and no support to address the cost-of-living.
“Enough is enough. We’re taking the case for action on student poverty to the Scottish Parliament at our Rally for Education on 22 February. Standing in solidarity with staff, we’ll be demanding year-round student support that meets the cost of living.”
Matt Crilly continues: