No £150 living cost grant for students
Updated: Mar 28
NUS ‘utterly stunned’ undergraduates excluded from Holyrood pay-out
by Evelyn Bayerlein and Jake Roslin
Courtesy of waldomiguez via pixabay
A Scottish Government grant for low-income households will exclude students, it has been revealed.
The £150 cost of living payment, announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, will be paid to all Scottish households in the lowest Council Tax bands A to D, plus anyone else receiving Council Tax Benefit. However, Forbes confirmed in a BBC Radio Scotland interview on 11 February that those in full-time education are excluded.
NUS Scotland President Matt Crilly condemned the exclusion. ‘With inflation-busting increases in our rents and more of us using food banks, I am utterly stunned that the Scottish Government has decided to exclude students from this new £150 payment,’ he said in a press release.
‘Students face the same energy bill hikes as everyone else, but our support doesn’t increase by the cost-of-living and most of us receive no support whatsoever during the summer. The Finance Secretary must extend the payment to students.’
A Gaudie social media poll conducted between 16 and 22 February showed 23 of 24 respondents thought students should receive the payout. ‘I rarely turn the heating on,’ commented one, ‘I think this will affect a lot of students and could be detrimental for their health, leaving them freezing over the cold winters’.
‘Energy bills have skyrocketed for everybody, and especially students [who] are already on a tight budget,’ said another, ‘So it doesn’t seem fair to exclude them from this financial support’.
Ivana Drdáková, AUSA VP for Welfare told The Gaudie: ‘We’re really disappointed to see that students have been forgotten about yet again. Students must be treated the same way as any other members of society. They have to pay the same bills as everyone else, so they should have access to the same opportunities. We urge the Scottish Government to solve this omission as quickly as possible.’
Meanwhile, Logan Machell, President of Aberdeen University Labour Society commented: ‘Many students across Scotland struggle to pay basic living costs. I can imagine that many students are incredibly disappointed about not getting the £150. So yes, it definitely should be extended to students.’
The one-off grant comes after it was announced there would be substantial increases in energy bills and National Insurance contributions across the UK this spring. Forbes admitted the payments, announced to the Holyrood Parliament on 10 February, were ‘not enough’ with households across the UK struggling, and called for ‘urgent’ action from the UK Government.
An NUS Scotland survey recently found that 12% of students had used food banks during the pandemic.
The union also calculated that student rents in Scotland have risen 34% in the last three years, the fastest in the UK. Meanwhile Mental Health Foundation research found 22% of students worried about running out of food, and 24% ate less due to lack of money.
‘We’re scunnered,’ continued Crilly. ‘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.’