McLaughlin: Ministers fall short with student support proposal

SDLP Economy Spokesperson, Sinead McLaughlin MLA has welcomed a funding allocation for the Department of Economy to support students, but said the £10.4m pot provided by Sinn Fein Finance Minister Murphy is not enough to make a tangible difference to students.

The Foyle MLA added that Minister Dodds must urgently clarify how she intends to spend the funds.

Ms McLaughlin commented:

“The SDLP has been campaigning for many months for students to get their fair share of support. They have been ignored by the Economy and Finance Ministers for months, despite being one of the groups most adversely impacted by the pandemic.”

“I welcome the news that after a concentrated effort by the SDLP and the more than 6,000 students who signed our petition, the Ministers have conceded they need to act to support students. They now need to get serious and provide an adequate amount of money that can make a difference.”

“Students have told us they are in financial distress, lost part time income and paying for accommodation they cannot use. We know that students are facing problems across the board and that is why we have called for a one-off payment for all Northern Ireland students, including those studying in Britain. The amount provided today by Minister Murphy is much less than what students told us they need. It will not make a tangible difference or alleviate financial hardship.”

“While it is welcome that DUP Minister Dodds and Sinn Fein Minister Murphy have finally woken up to the fact students have suffered without any substantial help for almost a year, they need to put their money where their mouth is. While we are awaiting detail, this funding allocation falls short as to what is needed. Students deserve better and we will fight to ensure they get it.”

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