Energy: Billing

Department for Education written question – answered on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of (a) higher education institutions and (b) student unions on the availability of support for students with energy bills.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)

Up-front loans are available as a contribution towards students’ living costs while attending university with the most support available for students from the lowest income backgrounds.

Maximum grants and loans for living costs were increased by 3.1% this academic year, and we have announced that they will increase by a further 2.3% next year, the largest ever amounts of support in cash terms. In addition, we are freezing maximum tuition fees for 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By 2024/25, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years.

The government recognises many households will need support to deal with rising energy costs, which are being affected by global factors and has therefore announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in the 2022/23 financial year.

This includes a £200 discount on energy bills this Autumn for domestic electricity customers in Great Britain which will be paid back automatically over the next five years and a £150 non-repayable Council Tax Rebate payment for all households that are liable for Council Tax in Bands A-D in England.

The government is also making available discretionary funding of £144 million to be provided to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes.

Many providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance should individuals’ finances be affected in the 2021/22 academic year.

Grant funding to the Office for Students (OfS) for the 2021/22 financial year included an allocation of £5 million to HE providers in England in order to provide additional support for student hardship.

In our guidance to the OfS on funding for the 2021/22 financial year we made clear that the OfS should protect the £256 million allocation for the student premiums to support disadvantaged students and those that need additional help. The 2022/23 financial year guidance to the OfS confirms universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through the student premium. Ministers’ Strategic Priorities Grant guidance letter to the OfS asks that the OfS looks to protect the student premium in cash terms for the 2022/23 financial year.

Advice is available from providers and from other sources online to help students manage their money while they are attending their courses.

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