The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has welcomed the announcement1 in the Autumn Statement that the new postgraduate loans will now be available to all those under the age of 60.
When the proposals were first made earlier this year, the loans were to be restricted to people under the age of 30. While the extension to all those under the age of 60 is a pleasing amendment, the ATT does wonder why there needs to be any upper age limit.
Michael Steed, President of the ATT, said:
“We strongly believe that whether a loan is provided should be considered on a case-by-case basis regardless of age, taking into account personal circumstances, the intention to repay the loan and how the individual hopes to use the qualification once obtained.
“When the ATT responded to the consultation issued earlier this year, we were strongly of the view that making the loans available to just those under 30 was potentially discriminatory and ignored a large part of society that might benefit from access to postgraduate student funding.
“For example, someone on a low income for many years may decide a Master’s would be good to help them change career path and increase their earning potential. They would not necessarily have the funds to finance this though and when they make the decision to take further higher education they could well be more than 30 years old.”
The announcement also confirmed that the repayment rate would be reduced from nine per cent to six per cent of income over £21,000.
Michael Steed added:
“The ATT believes that this will relieve the burden on postgraduates who find themselves repaying multiple graduate and postgraduate loans at the same time. In addition, it might allow postgraduates to have spare cash to pay into a pension fund, especially key at a time when the Government is trying to encourage young people to save more towards retirement.
“The ATT still hopes to see an improvement in the information provided to all individuals repaying student loans to help them understand the rates due on their loans and the implications on their tax positions, which was another point made in our response to the consultation issued earlier this year”
The new postgraduate loans will be introduced from the 2016/2017 academic year.
Notes for editors
- Link to Autumn Statement Blue Book para 3.122 here.