The government isn’t just ignoring students – it’s actively making life harder for them

New economic reforms will leave students worse off

The country is facing a cost of living crisis that just got a whole lot worse following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement 2022. While the top 50 per cent of earners will benefit from his economic reforms, those who are less well off will not.

Tax cuts have been dressed up as benefitting the poorest in our society when actually they are nothing but sticky plasters over the country’s gaping economic wounds.

And in all this, students have been both sidelined by the very reforms meant to offset the cost of living crisis, and actively targeted by the government, who have just unveiled plans to take billions from the pockets of graduates.

You know things are getting really messed up when landlords are siding with tenants

I’m not exaggerating when I say that students, technically speaking, are absolutely fucked. According to new research, one in four students have less than £50 to live on every month. Two thirds find they have to seek financial assistance, with five per cent using food banks and 13 per cent using credit schemes like Klarna. Set against the backdrop of rising rents and energy bills, it’s becoming increasingly hard for students to simply exist.

And you know things are getting really messed up when money-grabbing landlords are actually siding with their long-term, contractually-tethered victims: tenants.

Landlords will benefit from the changes to national insurance contributions (shock), but they’re also concerned that their tenants won’t be able to cough up the cash for rent.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Housing Association said: “The chancellor should have reversed his decision to freeze housing benefit rates. Without this, those relying on the benefit will find it increasingly difficult to afford their rents.”

New economic reforms will only make students worse off

The new economic reforms won’t help students, they will only make them worse off. The chancellor has cut the rate at which people start to pay National Insurance, a tax which even students with the most intense part-time jobs, probably won’t have to pay.

He’s introduced a negligible, 5p tax cut to fuel duty. Most students don’t have cars at uni. He’s cut income tax, except this reduction will be introduced in 2024 (just before the next general election) by which time people will actually be paying more tax due to rising inflation.

Oh, and then there was the previously announced council tax refund– conveniently, a tax from which students are exempt.

Students could saddle £100k of loan tax over their lifetime

You’d be forgiven for thinking the word “student” was completely absent from the chancellor’s statement, but don’t worry, they got a shoutout.

Student loan changes mean graduates will cough up £35 billion more in repayments. This is because the threshold at which students start paying their student loan back has been slashed from £27,295 to £25,000, a change which could see some students saddling £100,000 of debt over their lifetime.

The government could have helped students out with rent or bills

So what could the government have done to combat the cost of living crisis for students? Erm, lots. Rishi could have brought in rent protections for students living away from home and introduced some form of maintenance support for students.

He also could have gone back on that costly student loan policy. But he didn’t. Why? Because this government has consistently showed contempt for students, a political class they know will not vote for them at the next general election and are therefore not worthy for their support.

National Union for Students President Larissa Kennedy puts it well: “The chancellor’s Spring Statement is a disgrace for students, young people and graduates. This was a moment where students desperately needed a lifeline from this government; instead this is a nail in the coffin.”

Featured Image: Rishi Sunak picture via Shutterstock / Ilyas Tayfun Salci

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