Alyn Smith MP and Bruce Crawford MSP have called for a temporary relaxation of the qualifying criteria for Universal Credit, to allow students who are in financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to claim during the summer months.
The SNP have written to the UK government asking them to allow students to access Universal Credit and the benefits system – after a recent UK-wide survey of university and college students from low-income backgrounds found that nearly two thirds were worried about their capacity to pay rent and bills.
The Scottish Government has already put in place a £5 million package of emergency financial support to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Bruce Crawford MSP said:
‘Financial support committed by the Scottish Government, in relation to coronavirus, is already having a tangible effect on the lives of students, but the normal ebb and flow of summer work has been severely disrupted by this pandemic. The opportunity to cover living costs in the usual ways may be extremely limited.
‘Temporarily relaxing the qualifying criteria for Universal Credit, specifically to allow students to claim during these disrupted summer months, could be a real game changer. This could make a huge difference to students from the poorest backgrounds during these unprecedented and challenging times.’
Alyn Smith MP added:
‘The SNP have led calls for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income, or a similar form of minimum income guarantee, to help everyone in society through this health crisis. It should not be the case that vulnerable and low-income groups such as students fall through the cracks.’