To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their plans to assist A-level and university students who are at risk of homelessness due to their on-campus accommodation contracts being terminated, and how they will ensure these students are neither rendered homeless nor forced into debt.
19 May 2020
As my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.
My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, has written to all higher education (HE) providers to explain the importance of HE institutions operating a non-eviction policy so that no student is required to leave halls if their contract has ended, if their rental agreement does not cover holiday periods or if they are unable to pay their rent. This is particularly important in the case of international students, care leavers and students estranged from their families.
In her letters, my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, also emphasised the need for HE providers to consider practical support to ensure that students who remain on campus can access sufficient food, medical and cleaning supplies, along with mental health support.
Students will continue to receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the current 2019/20 academic year.
We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April and May, towards student hardship funds.
Students with a part-time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment. This can be accessed from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses.
We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.
The government encourages universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period.