Budget 2018: What Does it Mean for Students?

Budget 2018: What Does it Mean for Students?

This week has seen the beginning of sub-zero temperatures, ice-covered streets and Arctic winds battering Leeds students. If that wasn’t chilly enough, the government have revealed their budget for the year, mapping out how they plan spend the nation’s money.

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his 3rd budget as Chancellor and stood in parliament for almost 72 minutes explaining the Conservative party’s plans. He claims that the ‘era of austerity is finally coming to an end’.  72 minutes of financial jargon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so here’s the most relevant plans for students:

Railcards

The government plan to introduce a new Railcard for 26-30 year olds, offering them a one-third discount on UK rail travel (essentially, an extension to the current 16-25 one).

Alcohol, Tobacco and Fuel

The important stuff. Duties on beer, cider and spirits will be frozen, so prices on pints won’t be increasing any time soon. Cracking open a cold one won’t leave you any more out of pocket than usual (until the next budget, at least). However, it’s bad news for wine drinkers, as wine prices are set to rise by 8p per bottle.

The cost for 20 cigarettes will also go up by 33p; good luck convincing someone to give you a free one in the smoking area now. Increasing tobacco tax is an easy way for the government to make money, but many have said it will hit the poorest and students the hardest.

Despite all these extra charges, the fuel duty will be frozen for the 9th year in a row, so VAT prices on petrol shouldn’t increase too much.

National Living Wage

The Tories have increased the National Living Wage for over 25s from £7.83/hour to £8.21/hour. For everyone aged 21-24 there’s a 32p increase from £7.38/hour to £7.70/hour, and for 18-20 year olds the new minimum wage will be £6.15/hour. A lot more than what you were paid before, but still not enough to live off.

Mental Health

Hammond has announced plans for a new 24-hour mental health hotline, and that £2bn will be spent towards mental health services in the UK. Jeremy Corbyn spoke against this, saying that it isn’t enough, and will not cover the UK’s rising demand for mental health services.

Housing

Although many of us don’t want to think about leaving the wonderful streets of Hyde Park, soon we’ll have to consider getting a house of our own. The government has proposed that there are to be 13,000 new houses to be built. First time buyers will also be exempt from stamp duty (extra fees) if they are purchasing shared equity homes of up to £500,000.  Basically, more help for first-time buyers – a bit less debt to add to that ever-growing university mountain.

Brexit

Finally, The Chancellor announced that he’s holding £500 million back incase Brexit backfires. So he’s got roughly £4 billion locked away to pay for the EU ‘divorce fee’ and any other problems we may encounter on our emotional exit from the EU.  

Zahra Iqbal, News Editor

[Image: Sky News]