Friday 24-03-2017 - 14:10
Students call on council candidates to commit to using powers to improve students’ lives with a new campaign which will focus on apprecntice council tax, housing and childcare.
NUS Scotland has today launched our campaign for the Scottish Local Government Elections at our conference in Dundee. The ‘Our Community Too’ campaign calls on council candidates to improve student housing, introduce Council Tax exemption for apprentices and create a fairer childcare system for students.
The issues students will be lobbying candidates of all parties on are:
• Council Tax exemption for apprentices: While students are exempt from Council Tax, apprentices - whose minimum wage is currently £3.40 - still have to pay. This is unfair and we’ll campaign for apprentices to be made exempt too.
• Housing: As it stands students can face having to pay up to 82% of their income on housing alone, and supply of affordable quality student housing is being stretched. We want councillors to use the powers they have to create rent pressures zones and utilise HMO licensing to make student housing better and crack down on dodgy landlords.
• Childcare: Our Bairn Necessities report on student parents published last year found that too many student parents are struggling with the cost and flexibility of childcare. As the roll out of increased childcare hours continues across Scotland, we want to see a requirement placed on councils to consult student parent groups and consider how best to fit their needs.
Commenting, NUS Scotland President Vonnie Sandlan, said: “Too often local authority elections can be overshadowed by national political events - that’s why we’re campaigning to ensure that students know how much power their councils have. We also want to see council candidates commit to using those powers to improve students’ lives.
“Our campaign is based on the issues that we know impact the day to day lives of students and apprentices. Too many students are spending the vast majority of their limited income on below-standard housing. Apprentices - whose minimum wage is a pitiful £3.40 – also face the additional burden of paying Council Tax. For student parents, the cost and provision of childcare is a huge issue, and they find themselves paying through the nose in a system that doesn’t give them the flexibility they need.
“Councils already have significant powers in these areas, and they’re set to become more powerful as we see increased childcare hours rolled out and new housing laws come into effect. Discussion around the future of Council Tax is only likely to continue over the next few years - we want to see politicians take the opportunity to give apprentices the same exemption rights as students.
“Ahead of May’s elections students across Scotland will be speaking to council candidates to ensure they know how they can use the powers councils have to improve student lives. It’s time for us to remind councillors and politicians at all levels that it’s Our Community Too.”
Download our briefing and campaign pack to get involved!