More than one in ten students are forced to use food banks

The NUS is demanding students have a ‘cost of living support package as a matter of urgency’

Around 11 per cent of students can’t afford essential groceries and are forced to use food banks, according to new research by the National Union of Students (NUS).

This figure is up from five per cent back in January, reflecting the sharp spike in inflation and the increasing pressures caused by the cost of living crisis.

The NUS is demanding the UK government puts together “a tailored cost of living support package for students as a matter of urgency.”

The new survey of 3,500 university students, college students and apprentices found that a third of respondents are surviving on less than £50 per month.

One in five students are unable to buy toiletries, while one in ten cannot afford sanitary products when they need them.

For many students, their maintenance loans are no longer covering their food costs, energy bills, transport costs or their education materials.

Without sufficient funding, students are increasingly getting into debt to cover their living costs.

A third of students use credit cards, a quarter are using “buy now, pay later” schemes like Klarna, and over 50 per cent of students have turned to friends and family for financial support.

Unsurprisingly, this is having a detrimental effect on wellbeing.

92 per cent of students say the cost of living crisis is having an “impact” on their mental health, while a third are reporting a “major impact”.

An NUS spokesperson said that students are now on the “brink”.

They added: “We’re hearing from students struggling to get by, who can’t afford to do their laundry and are cutting back on showers to make ends meet. They can’t even cover the cost of getting to the library or classes.

“This is having a severe impact on their mental health, being kept awake at night due to finances. We’re seeing stress and anxiety piling on them from bouncing debt between different cards to stay afloat. Despite all of this students are being completely ignored by the government.

“These findings are bleak; we’re knee deep in a cost-of-learning crisis that will affect the poorest students the hardest.

“We are calling on the UK Government to put in place a tailored cost of living support package for students as a matter of urgency. We also need to ensure that the student maintenance package and the apprentice minimum wage are brought in line with the Living Wage.”

Featured image: Shutterstock / Jonathan Goldberg

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