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Calls for support as students face summer of poverty

NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly
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@NUSScotland’s survey finds students rely on foodbanks and face rising unemployment 

  • 3 in 4 students expressed concern about their ability to manage financially this summer
  • 24 per cent of students have been unable to pay their rent in full in the past three months as a result of covid, with 31 per cent unable to pay their bills
  • 1 in 10 students used foodbanks
  • More than half (54 per cent) of students said they are not at all confident that they will find a job this summer
  • 22 per cent relied on credit cards, 8 per cent on bank loans and 16 per cent on credit schemes to make ends meet

As students receive their final instalment of student support this month, NUS Scotland reveals the extreme hardship they have faced during the pandemic, which is set to get worse into the summer.

Three in four students are concerned about their ability to manage financially this summer, a new NUS Scotland survey has found. More than half of students are concerned they will be unemployed as they head into the summer months and 10 per cent are already dependent on foodbanks.

Also of concern are the rising levels of debt and poverty students are finding themselves in. With 22 per cent relying on credit cards, 8 per cent on bank loans and 16 per cent on credit schemes, students are increasingly turning to commercial debt to make ends meet. When surveyed 24 per cent of students said they have been unable to pay their rent in full as a result of covid, with 31 per cent unable to pay their bills.

As we head into summer, the situation appears even more desperate for students. Most aren’t eligible to claim universal credit, leaving them with a three-month gap until they receive any type of financial support.

In the pre-election period, the SNP committed to £20million of summer funding.  However, the National Union of Students has warned this support “won’t scratch the surface”. Even if support was targeted at just those already reliant on foodbanks, it would work out at just £400 for three months per student. The students’ union is calling for a Student Summer Payment to be introduced to avoid thousands facing a summer of poverty.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly, said:

“Coronavirus has caused untold disruption to students up and down the country, to our studies, our finances and our everyday lives. Today’s figures are alarming and show that many are barely able to feed themselves and pay for basic bills.

“As the summer approaches, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb of student deprivation.

“Many students have already lost crucial part-time jobs with no guarantee that such work will be available again soon, the end of student support payments is just around the corner, and the vast majority of full-time students are not eligible for Universal Credit.

“The situation is dire, and we must not end up in a position where students are driven out of education and into poverty.

“That’s why NUS Scotland has launched a petition, calling on the Scottish Government to urgently intervene and make bursary support available to all students through a student summer payment.”

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