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NUS President responds to government Budget

Wednesday 11 March 2020

The government has today announced its Budget for 2020. 

In response, NUS President Zamzam Ibrahim has released the following statement: 

“It is disappointing that despite significant increases in government expenditure the government has ignored some of the biggest needs for our students. Increasing funding for our further education sector is very necessary and to be welcomed but this still will not undo the cuts that the sector has seen since 2010. Some of the biggest issues that students face are in regards to their living costs. Students cannot wait until autumn and the government’s response to the Augar review for the reintroduction of maintenance grants and raising of household income threshold for student support – they need them now. 

 

The Chancellor has promised to extend statutory sick pay (SSP) but it must be acknowledged that this will not do much to help low-paid work and particularly our apprentices. Many students will not be eligible for SSP because they work part-time or are employed on casual contracts, yet they will struggle to make ends meet when their earnings decline as a result of COVID-19. 

 

Plans to increase the National Living Wage and reduce the age threshold to 21 by 2024 are positive and students will be watching these developments closely. While it is important that the government is taking fire safety seriously by establishing a more extensive building safety fund, the 18 metre threshold for high-rise buildings is completely arbitrary and puts the safety of many students at risk, as was demonstrated by the fire in The Cube in Bolton. 

 

We are glad to see the confirmed reintroduction of bursaries for nursing, midwifery and healthcare students but if the recruitment crisis in our NHS is to truly be solved students need to benefit from tuition fee exemptions, there needs to be some recompense for the 'lost cohorts' between 2017/18, 18/19 and 19/20 and confirmation that students will not have benefit entitlements changed if they receive the new bursary. 

 

Funding to improve the accessibility of train stations will be crucial for many disabled students and we would like to see this extended to cover more than just a dozen stations. Increases in the immigration health surcharge are completely unnecessary and fail to recognise the many financial contributions that international students already make to the UK economy. We are pleased that the government has committed to the cancelation of pre-2012 student loans, as we have been calling for, and would like to see them commit to not selling off post-2012 loans so that private companies will not gain from the debts of students.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

 NUS published a paper ahead of the 2020 Budget in our previous press release

 
Contact: NUS UK Press Office | pressoffice@nus.org.uk | 07866 695 010 |

About NUS UK
The National Union of Students (NUS) is a confederation of 600 student’s unions across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Through our members we represent, campaign on behalf of and support the interests of more than seven million students.

Working with more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education students’ unions across the UK our main purpose is to defend, promote and extend the rights of students to make a real difference to their educational experience. Our goal is a country where everyone can access and thrive in education regardless of their background, and a society where students are valued as active citizens.

As education policy is devolved in the UK, we deliver our democratic and student voice activities through NUS UK and our nation-based teams in NUS Scotland, NUS Wales and NUS-USI.

Through our teams in NUS Services and NUS Charity we help member students’ unions develop and build effective students’ unions for all learners. Working with commercial partners, such as Endsleigh and OneVoice, we ensure students’ money is reinvested back in the student movement. Our charity partner SOS UK delivers our award-winning sustainability campaigns, including Green Impact, Student Switch Off and Divert-Invest. www.nus.org.uk

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