A student accommodation platform is calling on the government to provide urgent financial aid to students and halls during the national lockdown.
Housemates – backed by Allied Students and Herbal Hill Studios – is arguing for more support at institutional and private levels; enabling rebates for any students who’ve paid for accommodation they’re not allowed to use.
The platform stated that university students are already facing “an extremely difficult start to their working life due to the pandemic and recession” and that immediate government intervention is required to remedy the situation.
Lydia Jones, founder and CEO of Housemates, said there is real risk of “a knock-on effect that will impact the higher education and PBSA sectors, local university towns and greater economy for years to come.”
Lydia stated: “Students have been blamed and dismissed a lot during the pandemic by Government and higher education institutions, often being described as irresponsible, immature or childish, and with some institutions suggesting they should treat lockdown as a ‘retreat’.
“Yet, when it comes to attending university, they are adults – they leave their homes to travel hundreds even thousands of miles to make a life choice and commitment to education. They are then asked to sign contracts and take on huge debts and legal liabilities.
“It is unacceptable for them to be treated differently from other consumers, especially when they are crucial to the future of our economy and need urgent support to enter the working world.”
Danielle, studying at UWE, said she has spent a total of 16 days in her halls but is still being overcharged.
“They are offering students two weeks of a rent refund, but have phrased this as 50% off of four weeks rent,” explained the student.
“We won’t get any actual money back too – only credit for our last instalment and that discount won’t apply until around April anyway.
“It’s simply not enough and I feel like we are being treated like cash cows rather than humans.”
Housemates said it is hoping to improve the situation by launching a new service in March 2021 – whereby students can request and pay for their selected accommodation dates at a time that suits them.
The company said the solution will provide flexibility for students whilst helping operators fill occupancy for the academic year despite low consumer confidence.
IMAGE: David Dixon / Geograph
Meanwhile, rent protests are still continuing across the UK – with UoM Rent Strike holding a national rally earlier this week.
The series of protests have been described as “the largest student rent strike(s) in 40 years”.
According to protestors, campaigns are due to take place across 55 university campuses throughout 2021 – with £2,000 already raised via JustGiving for resources.
Uom Rent Strike – alongside Students Before Profit and 9K4WHAT – took up residence in the deserted Fallowfield Owens Park tower block back in November to campaign for a rent cut after problems experienced in semester one.
The University of Manchester’s initial peace offering – a two-week rent reduction – was dismissed as “a slap in the face“.
But the students finally left after settling on a 30% rent reduction for the period up to Christmas.
University of Manchester admitted that 2020 hadn’t been the year “any of us would have planned and we know we haven’t got everything right” – publishing a five-point accommodation pledge to students in response.
UoM also stated: “Students living in University accommodation who have not returned to that accommodation since the national lockdown announcement on 5 January will not pay any rent until the end of the current restrictions or the date that they return to their accommodation in Manchester.”
Mancunian has been named one of the ‘most attractive’ accents in the UK
Manchester is, once again, celebrating what we already know – our accent is one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
In case you missed it, earlier this year, Manchester welcomed in 2023 with the news that our city’s accent had been named the “sexiest” the country has to offer – with a survey of 2,500 people by casino comparison site Best Casinos discovering that over half of respondents ranked it the most pleasing regional accent to the ear.
And now it turns out that that survey wasn’t a fluke, because a new study has called the Manchester accent one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
But while there’s no doubt we can hold our heads high and be proud of claiming a spot in the top 10, this title does become a bit less impressive when you realise which other regional varieties have placed higher than us.
Fellow Northern accents Scouse and Geordie have taken second and third place on the list respectably, and the Welsh capital’s Cardiff accent rounding out the top five.
For us northerners, the grim reading continues when you learn that the London accent has clinched the top spot.
The Most Attractive Accents in the UK
According to Preply, 21% of women survey respondents voted for the London accent as the most attractive in the UK, compared with just 15% of men, while 10.4% of the population picked the unique sound of the Liverpool accent as second best.
Only 8.7% of survey respondents considered the Mancunian accent to be the most attractive.
The results from this survey do, at least, go some way to shattering the findings from two surveys published last year that found the Manchester accent is considered to be one of the ‘least respected’ nationwide, especially in the corporate world of work, and that Northerners with strong accents are considered ‘less intelligent’.
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The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”