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NUS outlines cost of living demands to help fight crisis

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AHEAD of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government statement, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall wrote to the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education, Youth Employment and Training calling for action on the cost-of-living for students. The organisation have called for: a raise in student support grants and bursaries; an immediate rent freeze for all student tenants; and half-price peak-time bus and train fairs for all students.

In the letter, they state:

“Firstly, we need to see action to raise the incomes of students and prevent poverty – students cannot be forgotten in this crisis. Recognising that difficult budget choices will have to be made, we have focused on an existing Scottish Government commitment to students.

We strongly support your pledge to increase the total package of student support to the level of the real Living Wage and would like to see an in-year increase in grants and bursaries for all students, which will make progress towards this goal. Should the Scottish Government provide additional cost-of-living support to households, this would be our preferred mechanism for providing equivalent support to students.

“Secondly, student rent costs were already spiraling out of control before the current crisis.

“Rents for student accommodation have increased 34 percent in just three years, 12 percent of respondents to our Broke survey said they’d been homeless and we’re seeing housing shortages driving up rents this year.

“We are pleased that the review of purpose-built student accommodation is making progress, but students cannot wait for relief from rent hikes.

“We therefore support calls from across civic Scotland for an immediate rent freeze – and want to see that freeze cover all students, whether they are in the private rented sector or purpose-built student accommodation.

” Thirdly, we need action to reduce the costs of learning. In responding to our Broke survey many cited travel costs as their biggest concern. One student told us,

“The biggest challenge for me financially at college is making sure I have money for food and travel to get to the college and worrying about if I have enough money to do me the rest of the week let alone the month.”

While we welcome the extension of the free concessionary travel scheme to under 22s, this falls well short of covering all students.

“As a first step towards extending the concessionary travel scheme to all students, we are calling for them to be eligible for half-price buses and trains this year. Crucially, these must be available during peak time so that they reduce the costs of commuting to study.”

Now that the Programme for Government 2022 to 2023 has been revealed as of the 6th of September, the Scottish government, while aiming to mitigate the cost of living crisis has potentially failed students, a group whom are often assumed their parents will pay or that they have a humungous student loan.

Student accommodation prices have increased by 61% in the last decade; inflation is running at 9% with energy prices and the cost of the weekly shop soaring. We are all feeling it, not just students, but we have to get our voices heard. For more details go to NUS Scotland to get involved in sharing support.

Featured Image Credit: NUS Scotland

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