During a meeting in September, Liverpool City Council put forward a motion which aimed to mitigate major cuts to council funding. The motion would give the council powers to make student landlords pay business rates.
On the 11th of October, the government rejected the bid amid firm opposition. There were mounting fears that it would only increase student rent prices, and the tax would be absorbed by students rather than student landlords.
Many students are already struggling to pay rent and are often forced to take up part-time jobs and apply for further loans, saddling them in more debt and increasing fears that many working class students in particular are being priced out of University.
According to an accommodation costs survey by NUS and Unipol, lower-cost accommodation has become much more expensive – it increased by 23 percent between the academic years 2009/10 and 2012/13.
Guild President Sean Turner discussed his concerns on his blog on the Liverpool Guild’s website, stating that the motion had been put forward without any consultation of Student Unions.
He argued that this is concerning as this is an issue designed to affect students specifically. Students make a significant contribution to the city and it is unfair to further increase already-rising rent prices.
However, this is not a cruel bid by the council to victimise students. The government has announced it will be cutting grants to all local councils, meaning that Liverpool City Council must now look for other sources of income in order to maintain important services across the community.
The council faces losing as much as 44 percent of its income by 2020 due to these cuts. Currently, student landlords do not pay council tax or business rates on their properties making the business of student property more profitable than many other sectors.
Many students have expressed relief that these plans were rejected. However, if the government continues with its cuts crusade on local councils, funding must be sought somehow.
It remains unclear how Liverpool City Council will source its income in future, or whether such plans will affect students.