Issues about student loan repayments: The best-known consumer champion has had enough of the issues facing students heading to university to such a degree that he’s pulled in a group of lawyers to act on his behalf – and perhaps take the case in question all the way to Whitehall.
MoneySavingExpert.com’s popular founder and editor Martin Lewis has hired a crack team of legal experts to see if the new rules for student loan repayments, introduced by the chancellor in the Autumn Statement, should be reversed.
George Osborne revealed to the House of Commons some weeks ago that he would be freezing the level at which graduates must start paying back their student loan debts, meaning those who earned £21,000 or more would have to start chipping away at what they owe the Student Loans Company.
Originally, the chancellor had promised that he would raise the threshold in line with average earnings – something Lewis has taken umbrage with. “This retrospective change is a disgrace,” he said. “No commercial company would be allowed to do it – the government shouldn’t be allowed to either.
“So how can I, to so many people, in good conscience explain student loans if the government is prepared to change students’ terms after they’ve signed up, in some cases after they’ve graduated. I feel duty bound to put an ‘it can all change’ wobbler in at the end.”
He highlighted how the government had carried out a consultation with the British public, and that despite its justifications for the change of heart, only 5% of respondents actually agreed with the change – and a whopping 84% of people were dead against it.
Lewis continued: “My view (and it may be nonsense hence why I’m engaging lawyers) is there are many areas of weakness in this announcement – primarily that this is an unfair change in contractual terms for students, one no commercial company would’ve been allowed to do. It could’ve chosen to do this only for new starters, that would’ve been reasonable (I’m not saying I support it, just I wouldn’t have challenged it), but it didn’t.”
The decision for the money-saving expert to consult Bindmans has been largely backed by the website’s loyal fanbase, including those in “key” professions such as teaching.