Students cutting back on food as bills soar - with some 'turning to sex work' to pay rent

Some students told ITV News Wales reporter Rhys Williams they are turning to risky measures to make ends meet

Skint students are hardly a new phenomenon, but while putting this report together many told us their finances have never been so precarious.

In a report shared exclusively with ITV News, the National Union of Students found that more than a quarter of students need credit cards to get by, with 20% making use of ‘buy now pay later’ schemes like Klarna and Clear Pay.

6% have taken out bank loans to get through their studies, while 8% have turned to local authorities for emergency help.

The report also found that more than one in ten students have used foodbanks.

For many students I spoke with, this means they don’t intend on turning the heating on this winter, and will be cutting back on food.

Some however are turning to more extreme means of paying the bills.

Scarlett is a student who is also a sex worker, and the extra income is vital.

She doesn’t want us to show her face, but told us not only that many more students have asked her about entering the industry - and that their motivation for doing so has also changed.

“People glamourising it on the internet had made a lot of people be like, 'oh, wouldn’t this be easy and fun and glamorous and I’ll be so cool and I’ll drink lots of champagne and make lots of money.’

“Now, the attitude has shifted more to like: ‘I desperately need to pay my rent'.”

'It's a very weird topic for 18-21 year olds'

We also spoke with Andrew and Alice in Swansea.

In their shared house the bills are included in the rent, but faced with rising bills and mortgage payments, their landlord is already threatening to change the contract.

They told us people’s educations were suffering too.

The National Union Students told us that its members were cutting back on essentials like food and university supplies and called on governments throughout the UK to provide more support.

The Welsh government says it provides the “most generous living costs grants in the UK” for students.

The students we spoke with, however, say it’s not enough.

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