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Increase access to Student Hardship Benefit

Conor Roberts NZUSA Co-President

Increase access to Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship

"With students now returning to tertiary institutions it is a good time to reflect on recently released Ministry of Social Development figures that show the number of students accessing the Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship (UBSH) dropped this summer," said Conor Roberts, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA)

"There has been a 24% decrease in the number of students receiving the UBSH between 2005 and 2006. This reflects a drop in those receiving the benefit of 42% between December 2002 and December 2005."

"This is both good and bad news. Fewer students needed to access the benefit this summer because of the continuing strong economy and the tight labour market."

"However, students can only access the UBSH if they can access a student living allowance during the academic year. Considering that only a third of students can access a student allowance, the drop in numbers hides the students who fall between the cracks."

"This is linked to the fact that fewer students are now being given a student living allowance than the same time last year."

"The government has failed to significantly increase student allowance eligibility, leading to decreased numbers of students receiving allowances during the year. Between the third quarter of 2004 and third quarter of 2005 there was a 7% decrease in the number of students receiving allowances. Less allowances during the year means that less students are eligible for the UBSH over summer."

"If students cannot find work over the summer and didn't have access to a student allowance during the year then they are trapped. They are not automatically entitled to access either the standard unemployment benefit or the UBSH," Mr Roberts said.

NZUSA Co-President Joey Randall called on the government to reinstate the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for all students over summer so that students won't miss out if unable to gain employment.

"Students have to jump through hoops to get the support most people are automatically entitled to."

"Currently students have to go to great lengths to access financial support over the summer. We think this could be remedied in two ways. The government should increase access to student allowances during the year and should grant all students automatic access to the UBSH if they fail to find employment."

"Students should be supported properly throughout the year while they educate themselves," Mr Randall concluded.


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