Students and youth are struggling!

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Students battled to keep the fees and loans regime out and to keep grants
Students battled to keep the fees and loans regime out and to keep grants

ONE in five students is living in vermin-infested homes, a new study published by the National Union of Students revealed yesterday.

The shocking new research was published in a report entitled ‘Homes fit for study’, which also revealed that over three quarters of students have a problem with the condition of their home.

The NUS said in a statement: ‘Over half have condensation; almost half have mould; and a quarter have slugs, mice or another infestation in their current home. Added to these grim health and safety concerns, over a third of students are getting into debt to meet upfront costs to secure a property.

‘The same amount struggle with energy bills, with almost a quarter unaware of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

‘NUS is calling for proper regulation of letting agents as well as proposing that an end to letting fees, as has happened in Scotland, would ensure that students have a better idea of the overall cost of renting in the private sector and can then budget accordingly.’

NUS Vice-President (Welfare), Colum McGuire, said: ‘Although there’s a commonly held perception that poor quality student housing is a rite of passage, it is both disgusting and unacceptable that students should live in vermin-infested housing in this day and age.

‘Our research has raised alarming health and safety issues and we are calling for more effective enforcement of standards to ensure students’ homes are fit for study.’

Chief Executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb, said: ‘No one should be forced to live in a home that is a danger to their health and wellbeing – so these findings are shocking. We hear from young people every day living in unsafe rented homes, dealing with rogue landlords, struggling to pay sky-high rents, or paying out hundreds in unfair letting fees.’

• The government’s flagship scheme for the long-term unemployed is delivering five times more benefit sanctions than jobs, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said as the latest figures were published.

Data published yesterday shows the wholly privatised Work Programme is still performing worse than if the government had done nothing, and it appears to be getting worse.

Only three per cent (48,000) of the 1.5 million people who have been through the scheme since it began in June 2011 have been found work for three months or more.

Comparing the data with the latest figures for Work Programme participants who have had their benefits stopped temporarily after being sanctioned, the union said it ‘has made a startling discovery’.

Five times more sanctions were applied to people on the work programme last year alone than the number of sustained jobs found for participants since June 2011.

Other findings include:

• Only 22 per cent of those on Jobseeker’s Allowance who have completed the full two years on the programme have found a job lasting at least three months. The Department for Work and Pensions estimated one third of participants would find sustained work without any help from the scheme;

• Of the 458,000 people who have completed the full two years, only 17.9 per cent have found work for at least one week and 1.7 per cent have found a job lasting at least three months;

• Only five per cent of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on the work programme are finding work. The target is 15 per cent;

• Almost one quarter of those who were referred to the Work Programme returned to the Jobcentre two years later;

• Since April 2012, the proportion of scheme participants finding a job has been falling. This could be because providers have cherrypicked easier-to-help cases first.