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Power to make alternative payments

Part of Higher Education and Research Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 13th October 2016.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 4:00 pm, 13th October 2016

The Minister says the terms were changed because of changed economic circumstances. Is it not the case that the reason was flawed planning by the Government? He will recall that when the changes were introduced in 2012, the Minister at the time, now Lord Willetts, was arguing that the resource accounting and budgeting charge—the non-repayable debt facing the Government—would be around 28%. Many of us, including independent experts, argued that that was not credible and that it would be much higher.

Gradually, over a period of years, the Government’s projections shifted from 32% to 36% to 38%, moving up to the mid 40%s and at one stage modelling—not confirming—a RAB charge of more than 50%. At that point, the new system became more expensive to the public purse than the one it replaced, as well as imposing additional debt on students. Was the Government’s incompetence on this not the reason?