Treasury – in the House of Commons on 20th December 2022.
Whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Education on the potential merits of increasing student maintenance loans in line with actual rather than forecast levels of inflation.
Treasury Ministers meet regularly with Ministers at the Department for Education to discuss matters of shared interest, including student finance. The Government are considering options for changes to loans and grants for 2023-24, and an announcement will follow in due course.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that the real value of maintenance loans is the lowest for seven years. Rents, which account for 45% of bills, are rising; food costs are rising; one in 10 students are using a food bank; and 80% say they cannot make ends meet. Why does the Minister not make his Christmas present a proper increase in the level of maintenance loans? Because it is a loan, he would not even have to pay for it.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I have a lot of respect for him and I recognise the issue that he refers to. Of course, many higher education providers have hardship funds that students can apply to, and there is £261 million—a quarter of a billion pounds—of student premium funding available this year to support disadvantaged students. On the specific issue of the uprating, of course there needs to be a delay to operationalise those additional sums. That is at the core of the issue. However, as I said, the Department for Education will report on the matter in due course.