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Ministers urged to set date for minimum student income

Scottish Labour wants dates to be set for the creation of a minimum student income Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

Ministers should set a date for bringing in a minimum student income of more than £8,000 a year which could double support for some of the poorest students, Labour has said.

The Scottish Parliament voted to introduce a minimum student income last month following a Labour-led debate.

Now, following the non-binding vote, the party has called for clarification on when it will be implemented.

The recommendation for a minimum income of £8,100, linked to the Scottish Government’s living wage, was a key part of an independent review of student support published in November 2017.

With the increase in the living wage to £9 an hour, this would now be £8,550, and is recommended to be provided through a mixture of loans and means-tested bursaries.

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College students in Scotland are currently not eligible for student loans and the maximum bursary award is around £4,000 a year, meaning some of the poorest students would have financial support doubled by the plans.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “A minimum student income could double the financial support available to the poorest students in further education.

“That would be a fair deal, as opposed to the raw deal they get just now.”

He added: “This plan is straight from the Government’s own independent review.

“Labour has already forced the Government to accept the recommendation – ministers must now outline a clear timetable of when students will get more money in their pockets.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We support the ambition set out in the Student Support Review to achieve a minimum income for students, however significant investment is required to make this happen.

“We have already begun to implement this by increasing the care-experienced bursary to £8,100 per year and we are providing students in further education with record levels of support – £111 million in 2018-19.

“This represents a real-terms increase of 33% since 2006-07, giving further education students in Scotland the best level of bursary anywhere in the UK.”