Uni of York to put withheld pay from striking staff into new student rent grant

More details are expected to be released over summer

York’s Student Union (YUSU) has announced that they have secured their largest ever rent support package in the form of the University of York’s “Off Campus Rent Grant”. Notably, this grant will be funded through the pay withheld during this year’s strike period, which will rightly all be going back into students’ pockets.

The YUSU President, Pierrick Roger has said: “We’ve deliberately worked with the University to keep the eligibility criteria as wide as possible so that as many of you will be able to benefit from a payment of at least £100 (part-time students get a bit less and will be pro-rated).”

More details on this are expected to be released over the summer break.

University Radio York covered the topic in an interview with Charlie Jeffery and Pierrick Roger, which you can watch back here.

URY asked: “Is there any support that students can receive if they’re struggling with their bills, especially second and third years in private accommodation?”

In response, Pierrick said: “This year we’ve got the Household Energy Grant. Obviously that applies to students who actually pay for their bills and that was intentional because the pot of money was quite small which meant we have to restrict things to people who actually pay and can demonstrate that they pay their bills.”

Pierrick continued by saying: “Next year we are changing things up a bit and we are focusing on rent support directly and I’m really thankful that the academic registrars office has worked really hard with us on this.

“Our agreement right now is that all the withheld pay that we have had because of the strike action will be redirected to the students in the form of rent support and that means that we’re redirecting quite a hefty package of money towards that and that only. Obviously there will be criteria on it but it does mean that we target a lot more students especially on the lower income side of things.

“I know it won’t make a huge difference – it’ll be a drop in the ocean – but people will be receiving support for (rent) specifically.”

Pierrick outlined that there are numerous other funds that people can currently apply to, such as the Student Support Fund which is always open and available for students. He confirmed: “There isn’t any criteria. Right now it’s essentially if you have been experiencing hardship for whatever reason, it doesn’t have to be rent, but it can be rent, you can apply to the fund and they will support you so long as you can demonstrate that you are experiencing hardship.”

Charlie Jeffery added: “There’s a cost of living section on the University website so anyone who is listening who wants to know more about the current support schemes or the new schemes to come, head to that page and you should find the information.” The page can be found here.

The new Rent Grant will be funded by the withheld pay resulted from strike action. During strike action the uni have been withholding pay from lecturers. This academic year there was continuous strike action from the 23rd November 2022 to 20th April 2023 due to the ongoing campaign for better pay and for pension cuts to be revoked. There was significant amount of striking in the Second Term with there being 18 days of strikes. For each day of strikes, pay was withheld from the staff who decided to participate.

Now, amidst the marking boycott, part of the UCU’s ongoing campaign for better pay and conditions, the uni has decided that for each working day in the striking period, they will cut staff pay by 50 per cent. Students have been and are still being affected by the strike action, and now the withheld pay is being directed back to the students.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘Lecturers are exhausted and overworked’: What York students think about the strikes

Strikes Day Two: Everything that happened at the York Uni picket line today

Why I support the strikes at York even though I’m missing way too much teaching