U-turn on student benefit cutbacks

Government scrap plans to stop parents accumulating tax breaks and housing benefit for children in university.

26 August 2010

THE GOVERNMENT has abandoned plans to cut back on student housing benefits and tax breaks for parents, after the move was condemned by unions.

The cutbacks, announced last month, would have forced parents to choose between applying for housing benefit for their child’s rented accommodation or claiming an extra half-part in their tax return. Accumulating the two would no longer have been allowed.

About 650,000 students currently receive the aide personnalisée au logement (APL), which pays up to €248 a month towards the cost of renting accommodation.

Some 80% of claimants are also registered at their parents’ address for tax purposes.

Students’ union Unef said middle-class families would have been the hardest hit by the changes because they are not eligible for grants and the APL represents their only form of state financial help.

The U-turn will cost the state about €400m. Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday: “We do not want any student to limit their ambitions because they do not have the means.”

Unef said: “In the current context, this measure would have worsened students’ living conditions.”

According to the union, the cost of starting university is up 4.3% this year. Renting a flat in Paris costs 8.1% more than last autumn.

Most universities are operating a 10-month academic year from this September, with student grants paid in 10 installments instead of nine.

Pavel Losevsky - Fotolia.com

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