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It’s time to take action. You may be aware that at the end of your final year, between your last teaching hour and the moment your house contract ends, you will be asked to pay council tax.
Despite not being in full time employment, and not having graduated, you could still be charged several hundreds of pounds by the council at a time where you are about to step into post-university life.
We at Royal Holloway Students’ Union believe that this is unacceptable. To take advantage of students at such a crucial point in their lives is a clear display of desperation for cash, where those paying will see little to no benefits from doing so, and are in certain circumstances simply unable to pay such high costs.
We have drafted an open letter addressed to various members of Runnymede Borough Council, asserting our position on what we believe to be a great injustice. Whilst we do not know whether or not the council will listen to our call, it is a first step in what will likely be a long, and difficult campaign. It is however one which we are dedicated to pursuing.
Below we’ve attached a downloadable version of the letter. If you print off the letter and sign it, you can bring it to the Helpdesk at the Students’ Union building, and we will post the letter for you.
The more we send, the larger our voice will be, and the more likely a response will be. It is crucial that we stand as a united student body on this issue – that we ensure that students who are disadvantaged the most are being protected, and are protecting themselves.
This is an issue that affects every student, from all walks of life, and for that reason, we must all take action.
Below is a copy of the letter:
Every year final year students at Royal Holloway have been subjected to council tax charges between the end of their course and the end of their student tenancy. As the Vice-President (Welfare & Diversity) at Royal Holloway Students’ Union, I am writing on behalf of all Royal Holloway students to express my deep concern at this injustice. Students with no permanent income are being unfairly disadvantaged by Runnymede Borough Council’s policy on ‘People disregarded from paying Council Tax’, which states:
“Students who attend a university or college course for at least 24 weeks, for an average of 21 hours per week (the disregard applies until the end of the course, not their graduation date).”
This statement warrants the local council to issue council tax charges to all final year students, starting from when their student status expires 10th June until the end of their student tenancy. This policy affects all students who have just finished their studies at Royal Holloway, but have yet to attend the graduation ceremony. It also affects undergraduate students who have completed their degree, who will also continue to pursue a Postgraduate course.
It is completely unjust for Runnymede Borough council to exploit young adults who have only just concluded their academic studies but has no permanent source of income. Since many students would have moved home before the end of their tenancy, they would no longer be living in Runnymede Borough Council to benefit from paying council tax. The financial burden created by the abolition of maintenance grants against rising tuition fees and cost of living has disposed many students to live in austerity, as many can barely afford to pay rent, let alone council tax charges.
Most students who are unable to pay for the council tax charges turn to their parents or extended family to cover the costs for them. However, not everyone has the financial capability to pay for this extra costs. Consequently, students find themselves in a vulnerable position where they are being summoned to court as a direct result of Runnymede Borough Council’s policy. In other words, Runnymede Borough Council is actively contributing to young adults not being able to become productive members of society before they even had the chance to enter the job market.
Royal Holloway students are invaluable to the local community. They should not be subjected to council tax charges especially when they have not yet started full-time employment to secure a stable income. To better relationships between students and the local community, I call on Runnymede Borough Council to amend the policy to exempt all final year students from council tax charges between the end of their course and the end of their student tenancy.
Willow Wong, VP Welfare & Diversity
You can download an unsigned copy for the letter here. The final submission time will be at 5PM on Thursday the 8th of February, and letters will then be sent on Friday the 9th.
It’s now time for us to stand together. It’s up to you to change the world around you.
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