Students loans are counted income under the highly controversial introduction of Universal Credit.
Hundreds of thousands of students could see themselves worse off under Universal Credit as student loans are classified as ‘income’.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages throughout the UK and combines six existing benefits – income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits – into a single amount paid monthly.
In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that despite having to be paid back, the maintenance element of the student loan, which is intended to cover living expenses such as rent and bills, is still classified as ‘unearned income’ and would impact a Universal Credit award.
A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Student loans are designed to financially support students and the maintenance element is classed as ‘unearned income’ for Universal Credit purposes.
Adding; “Each month £110 of the student loan is disregarded from earned income as well as money paid for additional costs, such as tuition or books.”
‘An increase in worried students’.
The Royal College of Nursing confirmed its Member Support Services has taken a number of calls from students who were seeking advice about moving to Universal Credit – advising students not to choose to move to the new Universal Credit system until it is compulsorily rolled out in their area.
An RCN spokesperson said: “The RCN warned the Government in its response to their proposal to switch to a loans system that the new scheme would have an impact on nursing students’ entitlement to means-tested benefits.
“The College is now campaigning for nursing students to be taken out of the student loans regime altogether, as they were before the bursary was scrapped, and for them to receive instead a mixture of grants and ‘forgivable’ loans, which would not require repayment if a certain number of years of service in the NHS were completed. We are calling on the Government to put £1 billion into nurse higher education to fund these proposals.
“Any RCN members who are unsure about their entitlement to Universal Credit, or who think they may have been wrongly assessed, can contact our Member Support Services.”
‘Worse off’ under Universal Credit.
Emily, a student nurse from Leicestershire admitted to NursingNotes that she was “worried” about her future on the course. She said; “Universal Credit has caused my family to be around £170 a month worse off” adding “It isn’t fair on those who just want a better life for their family”.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland said it had received “deeply worrying reports” of students being up to £300 worse off under Universal Credit – plunging them into debt, rent arrears and putting an incredible strain on their health.
Liam McCabe, President of the NUS Scotland, said; “The Tory Government are deliberately attacking Scotland’s most vulnerable students – our single parents students, disabled students and our student carers. It is a pernicious, calculated attack on those who need support the most and NUS Scotland will stand by them in opposing Universal Credit.”
We have also approached the National Union of Students for England to comment.
NMC apologises after misleading Morecambe Bay investigators
Up to 19 babies and mothers died between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by staff.
The regulator has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice investigation.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice (FtP) investigation following the tragic death of newborn Joshua Titcombe at Morecambe Bay.
The report was initially commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, after up to 19 babies and mothers died at the hospital between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by the staff of its maternity unit.
Jackie Smith, the former Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, resigned on the eve of the PSA report.
‘Incorrect and misleading statements’.
Investigators highlighted concerns over a chronology that was submitted as evidence by Joshua’s parents. They commented that they regulator failed to include the chronology in the evidence gathering process and also failed to “consider and understand the significance of this evidence and its relevance to a central issue in the case.”
The NMC then went on to make “incorrect and misleading statements” to Joshua’s parents, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health about how it handled and reviewed the chronology.
Verita also commented that the regulator failed to treated witnesses “with the respect and sensitivity they deserved”.
Investigator on to recommend that the “NMC should make it a priority to ensure that it treats families and patients with respect and is honest and open with them” and “ensure that Panel Chairs are fully briefed about the importance of showing respect to bereaved relatives, perhaps by using this example as a case study.”
The total cost of Verita’s report was £151,742.22.
‘I am very sorry’.
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the current NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Throughout these fitness to practise cases the way we treated Mr Titcombe and his family was unacceptable. Our actions made an awful situation much worse and I am very sorry for that. I am also very sorry that our communications with Mr Titcombe, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care contained incorrect and misleading information about our handling of this evidence.”
“This investigation highlights a number of failings at the NMC at that time. We did not properly understand the significance of this important piece of evidence, in particular to Mr Titcombe and his family, and we did not put it before the panel when we should have done. This reflected a culture at the NMC at that time that prioritised process over people.”
“Since the events at Morecambe Bay we have made significant changes, including much improved record keeping, the introduction of a new public support service, and additional training for panel members to help them better understand the needs of witnesses.
Hospital charity launches Christmas gift appeal for patients
Those wishing to help the campaign can buy a gift or donate online.
The Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents to patients who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home.
A campaign to deliver more than 1,000 gifts for inpatients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Christmas Day has begun.
The N&N Hospitals Charity’s Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents donated by the public to patients, both young and old, who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home with their families.
Donations can also be dropped off by Sunday 8 December at the West Atrium Inpatient reception, Cromer Hospital, the Archant offices on Rouen Road, Norwich, and Greater Anglian Norwich Railway Station Customer Service.
The charity says that any donated presents should remain unwrapped so staff can ensure that presents are individually tailored for each patient, as well as protecting against potential infection.
‘Overwhelmed by kindness’.
Prof Nancy Fontaine, NNUH Chief Nurse, said: “We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people last year and we were able to deliver a lovely present to each of our patients.
“Nobody wants to spend time in hospital, and Christmas is so often a special time for people to be with family, and this is why we like to do something to make it a little nicer for our patients.
“We really hope that the people of Norfolk will once again support our appeal and help put a smile of the faces of our patients during the festive period.”
Louise Cook, Head of Fundraising at NNUH, added: “We know from our patients how lovely and unexpected it is to receive a gift on Christmas Day. They don’t need to be expensive gifts – toiletries, puzzle books, chocolates or socks are always greatly received.
“We have heard from people who would like to donate a gift but are unable to get out, so we this year we have an Amazon Wish List with small items which can be purchased and will be delivered directly to us, or a JustGiving page where a donation can be made and we will use that to purchase a gift for a patient.”
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