To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help ensure that students are able to afford their energy costs this year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment tools he has put in place to help analyse the impact of the cost of living crisis on the ability of students to continue with university courses.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to universities to help support students experiencing hardship due to trends in (a) inflation and (b) cost of living.
The department recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen and impacted students this year. Many higher education (HE) providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance.
To support disadvantaged students and those in need of additional help, the department has confirmed in our guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2022/23 financial year that universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through their own hardship funds and the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for the 2022/23 academic year.
We have also worked closely with the OfS to clarify that English providers can draw upon this funding now, to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by cost-of-living pressures.
Maximum grants and loans for living costs have also been increased by 2.3% this 2022/23 academic year. Students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022/23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the tax year 2022/23 has dropped by at least 15% compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.
In addition, maximum tuition fees, and the subsidised loans available from the department to pay them remain at £9,250 for the 2022/23 academic year, in respect of standard full-time courses. The department is also freezing maximum tuition fees for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By 2024/25, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years. As well as reducing debt levels for students, the continued fee freeze will help to ensure that the HE system remains sustainable while also promoting greater efficiency at providers.
The Energy Price Guarantee announced on 8 September will save the average household at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October. This is in addition to the £400 energy bills discount for all households. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount.
As part of the package of support for rising energy bills, the government is also giving a council tax rebate payment of £150 to households that were living in a property in council tax bands A to D as their main home on 1 April 2022. This includes full-time students that do not live in student halls or in property that is not considered a House in Multiple Occupation for council tax purposes.