Deputy Martin Kenny has urged the government to do much more to help students affected by the cost of living. His comments came when Sinn Féin published the results of the party’s student survey, which gathered the views of nearly 350 students on their experiences with pay and working conditions.
“The results of this survey expose the shocking way in which students in Sligo and Leitrim, and across the state, have been abandoned by this government. Many are under enormous financial pressure and unable to afford essentials such as gasoline, grocery shopping or turning on the heating. Their stories are shocking and show that the government needs to act urgently to stand up for students. Of those in Sligo who answered the survey, one student in particular emphasized the difficulties of making ends meet week after week. He said: “With the backlog and the cost of living not matching the weekly wage, it is very difficult to survive in today’s Ireland.”
“Despite working full-time, many students have very low wages, often below the minimum wage. As many people told us, travel and lodging grants just don’t match the actual costs they incur for students. This puts them under great financial pressure due to rising costs. 84% of students told Sinn Féin that they needed to cut back on essentials, such as buying groceries or turning on the heating. 72% say they have had to take on debt since the start of their apprenticeship. Nearly half said they are concerned that they may have to give up their apprenticeship simply because they cannot afford to continue. This would be devastating to a range of industries and particularly have a major impact on construction and renovation.
“Sinn Féin would increase funding to invest in apprenticeships and support apprentices. Last year we called for an investment of €52 million in apprenticeships to help with some of these pressures. Based on the findings of this survey, Sinn Féin will submit additional targeted support and reform proposals as part of our alternative budget. The government must listen to students and ensure that they take real steps, including in the 2023 budget, to invest in young people and artisanal apprenticeships.
“Sinn Féin would also introduce a cash payment of between €100-200 for hard-working employees. We would freeze the rents and put a month’s rent back in the pockets of the tenants. We would cut the cost of childcare by two-thirds. This package of measures would really make a difference in the lives of students.”