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Student support: restricted modification of repayment terms

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 21st November 2016.

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Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education) 6:30 pm, 21st November 2016

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Financial Conduct Authority. I remind him that it was under the Labour Government that Parliament was invited to confirm, as it did, that student loans were exempt from regulation under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 when the then Labour Government passed the Sale of Student Loans Act 2008. The hon. Gentleman should look back at his own party’s record on the issue.

New clause 3 proposes that student loans should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. I share the hon. Gentleman’s desire to ensure that students are protected, but student loans are not like the commercial loans of the sort regulated by the FCA. They are not run for profit and are available to all, irrespective of their financial history. Repayments depend on income and the interest rate charged on them is limited by legislation. The loans are written off after 30 years with no detriment to the borrower. By contrast, lenders regulated by the FCA are obliged to assess the credit-worthiness of all their borrowers, and the affordability and suitability of the loan product for each borrower. Were the FCA to regulate student loans, that could affect the ability of some students to obtain them.