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10 Sep 2008 : Column 1938W—continued

Ian Pearson: Variable fees were introduced in 2006/07. In that year new entrants to higher education could be charged up to £3,000. Increases are limited to the rate of
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inflation until at least 2010. Universities charging variable fees have to have an access agreement with the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) and are required to provide bursaries to students receiving the full Maintenance Grant. Many offer considerably more than the minimum bursary required. Fees can vary by course as well as institution.

English domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants to English higher education institutions by fee status 2006/07
Fee status of institution New entrants( 1) Percentage of students

Institutions charging full fee



Institutions not charging full fee



(1) Figures are on a HESA Standard Registration Population basis and are rounded to the nearest five.
OFFA lists of institutions by fee status; Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Student Record

Students: Loans

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will break down the data in Tables 1, 2(ii) and 2(iii) of the Press Release entitled Student Loans for Higher Education in England, Financial Year 2007-08 (Provisional), issued on 17 June 2008 by (a) students domiciled in England, (b) students domiciled in the UK but not in England and (c) students domiciled in the EU but not in the UK. [212684]

Bill Rammell: The Student Loans Company (SLC) publication Student Loans for Higher Education in England Financial Year 2007-08 (provisional) covers loans to English domiciled students studying in the UK and EU domiciled students studying in England. SLC produces separate publications for the other home countries, in consultation with the devolved administrations.

EU domiciled students studying in England may apply for tuition fee loans, first introduced in September 2006. They are not eligible for maintenance loans. Table 2(ii) of the England publication which has been placed in the Library covers the older mortgage-style maintenance loans only, and is therefore covering only England domiciled students. Table 2(iii) which has also been placed in the Library shows EU domiciled students in separate columns, the remainder of the table covers England domiciled students.

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many live accounts are held by the Student Loan Company for which no repayment is currently being received, broken down by reason for the lack of repayment. [220225]

Bill Rammell: Borrowers are liable to begin repaying their student loans from the April after they finish or leave their course. Student loans borrowers with income-contingent loans, which were introduced in 1998, repay at a rate of 9 per cent. of earnings above £15,000 per year. Those earning less than £15,000 are not required to repay. Repayments are collected through the tax system, usually by employers, in the same way as income tax and National Insurance contributions and are therefore automatically deducted. Therefore borrowers covered
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by the PAYE UK tax system are not able to get into arrears. Self employed borrowers make repayments through the Self Assessment system.

Borrowers with the older mortgage-style loans repay over a fixed term whenever their income exceeds the repayment threshold, usually through direct debits. The threshold for mortgage-style loans is 85 per cent. of national average earnings, £25,287 from 1 September 2007. Borrowers who demonstrate that their income is below the threshold and for whom the Student Loans Company (SLC) has agreed a deferment of repayment will not make any repayments.

Most of the following provisional information is taken from the Statistical First Release Student Loans for Higher Education in England, Financial Year 2007-08 published by the Student Loans Company in June 2008:

At the end of the 2007-08 financial year there were 1,237,300 income-contingent loan borrowers and nearly 341,100 mortgage-style loan borrowers past statutory repayment due date, i.e. due to repay loans if their income was above the relevant threshold.

Income-contingent loan borrowers( 1) March 2008

Non-repayment categories (records being matched and information being collected)


Below earnings threshold not repaying


Living overseas—in arrears(2)


Not yet repaying subtotal


SLC awaiting first year HMRC return—repayment status not yet determined(3)


Above earnings threshold -repaying


Currently below earnings threshold but have made repayments via the tax system during the last year(4)


(1) Excludes borrowers not yet required to repay because they are still in higher education or have recently left and those with accounts being fully repaid, written-off or closed.
(2) May have made repayments that did not bring their accounts up to date.
(3) Those for whom the first tax year return has not yet been received by SLC so their repayment status cannot yet be determined. This will include some borrowers who are repaying and SLC will be passed details of their repayments after the end of their first tax year of repaying.
(4) Those whose earnings have fluctuated during the year and who have therefore made repayments in some months but have earnings below the threshold at the end of the financial year.

The income-contingent loan scheme is still relatively young; the first cohort of borrowers completing three year courses became liable to begin repaying in April 2002 if their income was above the repayment threshold. Therefore a higher proportion of borrowers are new graduates, who will be new to the labour market, than will be the case in steady state. The figures also reflect the time delay of up to 18 months between graduates starting to repay, and when information on the repayments they have made is available to SLC. This is because repayments are made through the tax system. HMRC receives an annual P14 return from employers, setting out the deductions they have made in the past year, and passes on this information to SLC to update borrowers' accounts. Despite the inevitable time lags, collecting student loans through the tax system remains the most efficient and cost-effective method.

The vast majority of income-contingent borrowers who are not repaying (84 per cent. of those not repaying) earn below the £15,000 threshold and are not therefore
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required to make any repayments. Repayments for a further 16 per cent. have not yet started because details are still being matched with employer's records or other information that is being collected.

Borrowers living overseas who have not yet repaid the amount they were scheduled to repay represent 0.04 per cent. of income-contingent borrowers covered in the table and 0.1 per cent. of those not repaying. The Student Loans Company has arrangements in place for repayments to be scheduled from borrowers living overseas and these borrowers are made aware of the methods of repayment available to them. Effective collection across the EU is underpinned by EC regulation 44/2001, which allows the SLC to obtain judgements in UK courts, which can be enforced by courts in other EU countries.

Mortgage-style loan borrowers March 2008( 1)

Deferring repayments until following year( 2)

Deferring repayments


Deferring repayments with arrears


In arrears (may have made repayments that did not bring accounts up to date)

Owing less than 2 months repayments(1)


Owing 2 or more months repayments(1)


Overdue with no repayment schedule owing less than £100(1)


Overdue with no repayment schedule owing £100 or more(1)



Ahead with repayments


Up to date with repayments


Account closed

Fully repaid since loans introduced


Cancelled/written-off since loans introduced


(1) Individual borrowers may be counted in more than one category if they have loan accounts in more than one status.
(2) Borrowers with mortgage-style loans who have income below the repayment threshold are entitled to apply for deferment of repayment for one year at a time.

Of those borrowers who have received mortgage-style loans since their introduction in 1990, 56 per cent. have fully repaid and a further 8 per cent. have had their loans cancelled or written-off for reasons such as age, death, or becoming disabled and permanently unable to work. Around 23 per cent. are currently deferring or have arrears. Mortgage-style loans were replaced by income-contingent loans from 1998.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Inland Waterways: Property

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many lock-keepers’ cottages his Department plans to (a) sell and (b) let in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [223341]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency has put on hold any changes proposed by its lock house review until the completion of a full review of Waterways staff roles and responsibilities, and terms and conditions on the River Thames.

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No action will be taken to sell or rent lock houses until negotiations on the full review are completed. It is anticipated that negotiations will take six months but no action will be taken before 1 January 2009. The Environment Agency will then review the position on lock houses with lock-keepers and their representatives, and with concerned MPs.

Nitrates: Air Pollution

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the merits of a UK derogation from the nitrogen oxide provisions of the EU Air Quality Directive; whether he plans to meet the European Commission to discuss the matter; and if he will make a statement. [223243]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK is working to meet ambient air quality limit values in the shortest time possible. The UK Air Quality Strategy provides full details which can be found on the DEFRA website. The nitrogen dioxide limit values are extremely challenging and current projections indicate that despite these efforts, the UK, like most other member states, expects to report breaches beyond the 2010 compliance deadline. Subject to a full public consultation, the Government will therefore need to use the provision in the new Ambient Air Quality Directive which gives the possibility of a further five years to meet the limit values.

A successful application to the European Commission will need to demonstrate how compliance with the limit values will be achieved by 2015. The Government, with the devolved Administrations, are currently working to establish the extent and nature of the measures that will be required.

In the meantime, my officials are working closely with other member states and the European Commission in taking this issue forward.


Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what timetable he proposes for the adoption of private sewers; and if he will make a statement. [223269]

Mr. Woolas: The Government announced in February 2007 their decision to transfer private sewers and lateral drains draining to the public sewerage system into water company ownership. We subsequently published a public consultation in July 2007 on implementation options for the proposed transfer. The consultation also posed questions on the scope of assets to be included in the transfer and ways in which the creation of new private sewers could be prevented.

A summary of responses was published in March 2008 and we are currently considering in detail the issues raised with the help of a steering group of key stakeholders. The work of the steering group will inform the decision on the timing of transfer and we expect to make an announcement later this year.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 May 2008, Official Report, column 404W, on sewers, when the steering group expects to complete
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its work on the proposed transfer of private sewers; and when he expects to announce his decision on the timing of transfer. [223399]

Mr. Woolas: The steering group has almost concluded its work and we expect to make an announcement later this year.

Water: EC Action

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations his Department has received on the provisions of the proposed EU Water Performance Directive for Buildings. [223213]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA has received no representations on a directive proposal but has been engaging with the European Commission regarding the communication on water scarcity and drought.

The communication identifies a wide range of policies to reduce water scarcity including a proposal for a study to consider the need for a directive similar to the energy performance directive on the water performance of buildings.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons the Pesticides Safety Directorate has withdrawn its provisional authorisation for aminopyralid. [223172]

Mr. Woolas: The Pesticides Safety Directorate has amended the approvals of aminopyralid containing products to remove approval for sale, supply and use at the request of the approval holder.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date (a) (i) the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) and (ii) the relevant Minister was informed that the manufacturers of aminopyralid had withdrawn it, (b) the PSD recommended that the provisional authorisation for aminopyralid should be withdrawn and (c) a Minister decided to withdraw the provisional authorisation. [223173]

Mr. Woolas: Following PSD calling the main approval holder for aminopyralid to a meeting, the approval holder asked on 21 July 2008 for their product approval to be modified to remove approval for sale, supply and use. PSD accepted this application and accordingly issued a notice amending the conditions of approval with effect from 23 July 2008.

Work and Pensions

Child Benefit

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many new child benefit claims have been made in each of the last 12 months; and how many and what proportion of those claims have been made by (a) UK and (b) EU citizens resident outside the UK. [223163]

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Jane Kennedy: I have been asked to reply.

The information is not available in the format requested.

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