Repayment of Teachers' Loans Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Skills – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th March 2005.

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Photo of Colin Challen Colin Challen Labour, Morley and Rothwell 11:30 am, 24th March 2005

What recent representations she has received about the annual review mechanism of the repayment of teachers' loans scheme.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills

My right hon. Friend has received a small number of representations, including one from my hon. Friend, appealing against the removal of individual teachers from the repayment of teachers' loans scheme as a result of failure to complete the annual review process.

Photo of Colin Challen Colin Challen Labour, Morley and Rothwell

May I respectfully remind my hon. Friend of the correspondence that I entered into last month about the case of my constituent, Emma Seymour, who did not return her form in time, because it was sent to the wrong address? She claims that she told the Student Loans Company that she had informed it of her change of address, but it did not have any proof. It is difficult to prove that one has informed someone of a change of address. Does he agree that the rules are designed to penalise fraud, and are not meant to penalise bona fide hard-working student teachers? Will he agree to meet me to discuss the case to see whether there is a way through?

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills

My hon. Friend will know that the annual review mechanism was built into the RTL scheme because it is essential that teachers verify annually their eligibility for the scheme to safeguard the large amount of public funds that are involved. I understand that, partly as a consequence of discussions about this case, including my hon. Friend's strenuous efforts, the SLC has undertaken to review the appeals procedure in such cases, including Miss Seymour's. It has said that any changes that are to the advantage of the cases under review will be implemented without delay. I can give my hon. Friend an assurance that he will be able to meet the appropriate Minister from my Department.