John Swinney’s commitment to tackling poverty must be matched with real action

John Swinney’s commitment to tackling poverty must be matched with real action

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall: ‘Scotland cannot hope to eliminate poverty and inequality without the contribution of colleges’

 

As First Minister John Swinney is due to lay out his “priorities for Scotland” in a statement to Holyrood later today, NUS Scotland is reiterating their call for him to take three key actions which would demonstrate his government’s commitment to supporting students:

  • Reverse £60m cuts to college funding, invest in education and end strikes.
  • Ensure that rent controls legislation brings prices down and applies to all students.
  • Permanently scrap peak rail fares.

Ms Gomersall said the government must end the “spiral of cuts” as she pointed out that colleges disproportionately serve Scotland’s most disadvantaged and working-class communities. Further education has been hit with chronic underfunding, including cash funding cuts of £60m in the most recent Scottish budget.

Further to this, the letter also highlights that 12% of students have experienced homelessness, and called on the new First Minister to recommit to the Housing Bill – which must be strengthened and ensure that rent controls bring prices down to affordable levels, as well as include all students.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said:

“As Scotland’s students struggle amidst almost countless crises, our country’s leadership must take concrete steps to support us. Our three asks, if fulfilled, would be a first step from the government in demonstrating a commitment to helping students.

The First Minister has said that tackling poverty remains a key priority - but Scotland cannot hope to eliminate poverty and inequality without the contribution of colleges, which serve our most disadvantaged and working-class communities but are struggling after the spiral of cuts inflicted on further education by this government.

John Swinney’s rhetoric must be matched with real action. Today’s speech must contain a commitment to move away from the government’s history of undervaluing colleges and students.”

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