Students need no help this winter

Winter can be a particularly challenging period, which is why the government has put in place a package of immediate support for vulnerable households over the coming months.

Jim is an Associate Editor at Wonkhe

A press release alerts us that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak continues to support households with cost of living ahead of winter.

As such, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the ways in which the measures almost completely ignore students.

Winter Fuel Payments – boosted again this year by an additional £300 per household Pensioner Cost of Living payment – will provide pensioners with up to £600 to help with heating costs over the colder months. There aren’t many pensioner students.

Nearly three million low-income households are eligible for a £150 rebate on their winter electricity bills through the Warm Home Discount. But to get it, you have to be eligible for Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income Support, the “Savings Credit” part of Pension Credit or Universal Credit. Most students aren’t.

Cold Weather Payments provide eligible households £25 extra a week when the temperature is zero or below for more than seven days across the UK. Most students aren’t eligible for that either.

Benefits are rising in line with inflation, meaning more than 10 million working age families will see an average increase of around £600. Student maintenance loans are not.

Maintaining the Triple Lock earlier this year gives around 12 million pensioners the largest ever cash increase to the State Pension. This year’s maintenance loan increase in England was 2.3 per cent.

The Household Support Fund has been extended for another year in England to help families with essential costs with £1 billion of extra funding. Most local authorities ignore students when it comes to that fund’s distribution.

The government is also covering up to 85 per cent of childcare costs for working households on Universal Credit, up from 70 per cent under the legacy system – currently worth over £19,500-a-year for families with two or more children. Students aren’t eligible.

The good news is that the bus fare cap in England had been due to rise to £2.50 – but the government is keeping fares down at £2 until the end of next year to help millions of people make significant savings on their travel costs. Every little helps.

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