26 May 2017
Budget 2017: Three quarters of students miss out on increased accommodation benefit
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has welcomed an increase to the Accommodation Benefit, but says that it does not go far enough to meet rising housing costs.
The Accommodation Benefit cap for Student Allowance recipients has increased from $40 to $60 per week. Estimated new rates for Student Allowance recipients living in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will be $60. Dunedin-based recipients will likely see an $11 per week increase to $51. Only 33% of students have access to the Student Allowance, due to the parental income threshold for eligibility being frozen for five years.
‘More than three quarters of students will see no change to their living situation as a result of this Budget. This contrasts with our recommendation in our Budget wishlist, calling for a housing grant for all students.’
‘It also denies the Auckland rent crisis, when the cap of $60 will be mirrored in Christchurch and Wellington. In Auckland, students are paying $70 more on rent than in Christchurch, yet they will get the same level of support through the Accommodation Benefit.’
‘When we have raised issues of student poverty, the Government has said that student support is about right. We acknowledge that the Government has accepted it was wrong on that count. However, having made this acknowledgement they really should look to fix the problem, rather than merely paper over the worst excesses of it.’
Universities and ITPs funding
‘We are still working our way through the details but on the face of it, but it seems that universities and polytechnics will be getting less money in the future while private training establishments experience a significant increase in funding. We are concerned about public money going to private pockets especially in the face of recent concerns about quality in the private training sector.’
What’s missing - locked out of tertiary education
‘It’s also important to acknowledge what’s missing from this Budget. Our Budget wishlist proposed necessary changes to improve access to tertiary education such as a national First in Family Scholarship, restoring postgraduate allowances and ending age discrimination in allowance and loan access. In its Budget the Government is wilfully ignorant in failing to address the needs of those locked out of tertiary education.’
NZUSA is the national voice of students in tertiary education. The organisation is governed by students’ associations from universities and polytechnics around the country.