VUWSA Statement On Budget 2022
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) would like to state that the 2022 Budget has continued to condemn our national student body to poverty and debt by maintaining the status quo.
Extending half-price public transport for two months past June fails to address the systematic underlying issues that have caused the current cost of living crisis. While we do acknowledge the permanent half-price discount on public transport for Community Service Card holders will positively affect students, this is only a step in the right direction and does not go far enough. VUWSA reiterates that making public transport free is the only actual solution to end transport poverty that students and lower income earners experience.
Similarly, the $350 payment for those earning less than $70,000 will provide a benefit, albeit short, to students and is the first time in a long time that people on moderate incomes will receive payment from the Government. However, it is unclear if it excludes those who are receiving student allowance as this payment is excluded for those receiving other benefits. Clarity must be provided around the eligibility for this payment and which students are able to access it. Regardless, it is a band-aid solution that does not truly address the issues that have contributed to the rise in living costs.
Tangible improvements to Studylink support are necessary to counter the cost of living crisis. In the past, VUWSA, alongside other national Student Unions, have called upon the Government to create a universal basic income, available to all those who study; alongside mitigations for issues with housing quantity and quality - problems that disproportionately impact students. Within Budget 2022 there is also no additional support for the tertiary sector, one of the industries hit hardest by COVID-19.
The above issues are visibly missing from Budget 2022, and we implore the Government to put students closer to the forefront of their thinking when considering budget and policy in the future.