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Lib Dems lead cross-party call for Covid-19 grants to help students in difficulty

April 25, 2020 1:51 PM
By Rugby Lib Dems

Layla Moran ConfThe Liberal Democrats are leading a cross-party call urging the Government to set up emergency Coronavirus Maintenance Grants for students from low-income backgrounds who are struggling as a result of the pandemic.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, who is leading the campaign, warned students from low-income backgrounds are not able to claim Universal credit but are among the most "economically vulnerable in society during this crisis, and they do not have their parents to fall back on."

MPs representing university towns from across the political spectrum have signed a letter to the Chancellor which also highlights that businesses relying on temporary student labour will find it far easier to hire a new cohort of students to fill vacancies when the shops, pubs and restaurants reopen, rather than furlough students that may not even be resident in the same city when the pandemic subsides.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

"Students from low-income backgrounds are among the most economically vulnerable in society during this crisis, and they do not have their parents to fall back on. They are not eligible for Universal Credit, and many who do work throughout their studies have fallen through the cracks in the Government's furlough scheme.

"That's why I, along with thirteen other cross-party MPs with university constituencies, have written to the Chancellor, calling on him to introduce a maintenance grant to help poorer students through these tough and stressful times. We cannot allow the most vulnerable in our society to fall through the gaps."

Please see the letter below.

Dear Rishi,

We're writing to you to highlight the financial difficulties that many university students from low income backgrounds find themselves in.

Many students have been let go from their jobs as the pandemic has taken its toll on business. The majority were earning low wages and on zero-hours contracts. Although eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we are highly sceptical that employers of students will use them. Businesses relying on temporary student labour will find it far easier to hire a new cohort of students to fill vacancies when the shops, pubs and restaurants reopen, rather than furlough students that may not even be resident in the same city when the pandemic subsides.

Many of these students will not be able to find another job but will still be paying bills and rent. Full time students are also not entitled to benefits through Universal Credit. Instead, they must rely on the generosity of their parents or guardians, some of whom will not be in the financial position to support their children.

Given this dire scenario we call on you to introduce a 'Covid-19 Maintenance Grant' for students from low income backgrounds or on low incomes themselves. This would allow those with few other options for financial support to cover their lost income like the vast majority of other employees. We must not let this section of society fall through the gaps; not all students have access to financial support in tough times and they deserve assistance from the Government.

As MPs representing university constituencies, we urge you to consider implementing this student maintenance grant to stop students from falling into financial hardship during this crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Layla Moran MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP
Geraint Davies MP
Alex Davies-Jones MP
Allan Dorans MP
Mary Kelly Foy MP
Claire Hanna MP
Wera Hobhouse MP
Clive Lewis MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Alex Sobel MP
Nadia Whittome MP