Trade Union demand for the Scottish government to properly represent students.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland is calling for students to be included in the £150 cost-of-living payments from the Scottish government. Students are currently excluded from the initiative as they are exempt from council tax.
Research from the NUS has shown the impact the rise in the cost of living is having on students. NUS Scotland’s Covid survey found that 12% of students used food banks during the pandemic. Whilst a joint NUS and Unipol Accommodation Costs Survey found that student accommodation rent has risen 34% in three years – rising faster than anywhere else in the UK. Research from the Mental Health Foundation has found that 22% of students worried about running out of food and 24% were eating less due to lack of money. Despite this, students won’t receive the energy uplift.
Paola, a recent university graduate who was present at the cost crisis rally at George Square on 12 February – commented by saying: “History is repeating itself. We, the working class, are being blamed for price increases that were not made for us and they don’t reflect our standards of living. The only way to fight back against that is to gain people’s power.”
A current University of Glasgow student told The Glasgow Guardian: “My flatmates and I are already in £200 worth of debt with our energy provider and the costs keep rising. We were hit with an unexpected bill and haven’t been able to keep on top of it. I work 25 hours a week on top of my studies but with rent and the rising cost of living even that isn’t enough.”
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-term cuts to our learning, no increase in student support and no support to address the cost-of-living.”