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Cost of living soars for students

The cost of living crisis will uniquely impact students who will receive less government support

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Image Credit: Annie Watson

Many students have been affected by the ongoing cost of living crisis, receiving little support from the Government despite rising rent prices and higher utility bills.

However, they may be able to access support from the University of York with their pre-existing Student Support Fund.

Throughout the pandemic, rent prices did not increase dramatically, maintaining a nationwide average of approximately 1.4 percent according to the Index of Private Housing Rental Prices. Since October 2021, however, rent prices have been rising dramatically. This will affect students given that most second and third year students live in private accommodation.

One student remarked that their rent, including bills, would increase by £26 per person per week next academic year. This is a 21.6 percent increase on their rent for the 2021-2022 academic year. Another student who is entering the third year of their tenancy noted that their rent would increase by £20 per person per week.

However, they were able to negotiate with their landlord to reduce the increase to £10 per person per week.

Students who live in houses without bills included will already be feeling the cost of living crisis given that gas and energy prices have been rising since October.

This is the result of a range of factors including higher demand after lockdown, cold winters, and less wind over the summer meaning a lower reliance on renewable sources.

This only looks to get worse as the energy price cap will increase in April by £693. This is a 54 percent increase. Current predictions suggest it could rise by another £400 this October. Coupled with rising rent and utility bill costs, inflation is already hitting the UK meaning that prices of goods are also increasing. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), inflation on food for the 12 months to December 2021 was 4.2 percent and is set to increase further.

The Government has announced some support for those affected by the cost of living crisis, specifically for rising energy bills. From October, domestic electricity customers will receive £200 off their energy bill. This will then be repaid over the next five years, at £40 a year.

This has received a mixed response. Although it will help many with their finances, however, given that the price cap is increasing by £693 in April and looks set to increase further in October, many have criticised the support as being ‘too little too late’.

The Government has also announced a £150 council tax rebate (refund) for 80 percent of households (those living in A to D banded properties) from April.

Whilst this appears to offer further support, it will not help students who are facing the same rising prices. This is because students have a council tax exemption and therefore are also ineligible to receive a rebate.

Student loans look unlikely to increase significantly. The interest rate on student loans is linked to inflation. This means that the increase in inflation will lead to an increase in loan repayments for graduates.

The University of York is continuing to offer support to students who are struggling financially through the Student Support Fund. Applications to the Fund are open until 6 May 2022, meaning that students will have continuing access to the fund.

Full-time undergraduate students are able to claim a maximum award of £3000 from the fund. The University admits that students may have to wait up to 4 weeks to hear the outcome of their application.

Although the fund remains open until May, the money allocated to the fund has already been decided. This means that funds are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Once all the money allocated to the fund has been awarded, the fund is unable to offer any further support.

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