Welfare Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by John Andrew Davis (WR 10)

Request for an additional condition to Clause 19(2) of the 2011 Welfare Reform Bill to cover Student Loans Regulation 12(c)

Content

I: Introduction

II: Proposal

III: Summary

IV: Other Information

V: Footnote

I. Introduction

1. In June 1991 after passing a Full-time Btec National Diploma Course in (Design) Photography at Sandwell College of FE & HE, I then received a Student Loan, so that I could study on a Full-time IT Degree course at Derby College of FE & HE. (left after 1st Term) Then a year later, whilst studying at the University of Wolverhampton, I received further Student Loans, so that I could study on a Full-time Bsc (hons) Electronics and Physics course and then on a Btec HND IT course (No qualifications gained from these courses).

2. Unfortunately, I no longer have the decision letter I was sent following a Medical review of my Income Support claim in September 1997, to quote the reasons given as to why the Benefit Agency’s Medical Section had agreed with evidence provided by my Doctor as to why I should not return to a working environment which I then gave to my Doctor as proof my benefit would continue to be paid to me, without the need for further Medical Certificates. However, I do have a copy of the District worksheet for the all work test and under; "Part 6 Adjudication officer decision" the officer has indicated: - "Not to be disallowed"; "Incapable of all work" and NTCA is written in the further reference due box.

3. On the 7th April 1998, I wrote to Student Loans Company about a letter I had received in March 1998, from the DfEE in connection with the holders of Student Loans, which had not been sold in the first Student Loan debt sale, to enquire how I could get my Student Loan Liability written off under Para 12(c) (see Box B) of the revised Terms of Loan, which was enclosed with the letter as I felt my circumstances met both pre-requisites of this clause.

4. Then following the DfEE’s decision in May 1998, to allow the Student Loans Company to do what I had requested. I then sent them the evidence they had asked for in the form of: - A letter from my local Benefit office confirming that since the 27th July 1990, I had been in constant receipt of a Disability-Related Benefit; A sealed letter from my Doctor, which I backed up with the original All Work Test decision letter to prove, I had now become Permanently Disabled and Unfit to Work.

II. Proposal

5. I would like to ask the Public Committee if it could consider adding an additional condition to Clause 19(2) of the 2011 Welfare Reform Bill to cover Full-time Disabled Students, who received a Disability-Related Benefit on a continues basis both before and then after the "Period-of-Study" had ended.

6. Then, at the end of the "Period-of-Study", they were found to be "Incapable of Working in The Long Term", following a Medical review of their claim, which enabled the Authority or Loan Provider to write off the outstanding Student Loan Liability as outlined under the Student Loan Write-off Clause 12(c), (see Box B) upon receipt of confirmation from their own Doctor, that he had been notified about the decision and now Medial Certificates were no longer needed, as well as a letter from the claimants local Benefit office to show a Disability-Related Benefit had been paid prior to when the Period-of-Study started and it would still be paid on a continual basis in the future.

7. This proposal might only apply to Mortgage Style Student Loans and to Student Loans, issued prior to the end of the 1990 Academic Year.

8. Also, checks should be carried out with the Authority or Loan Purchaser to establish if the information provided by the claimant about the cancelation of their Student Loan Liability is authentic and the date when it took place, whilst the claim is in the "Assessment Stage".

III. Summary

9. I note that under the old Income Support Regulations, Full-Time Students can only receive this benefit, if their circumstances fall within the list of "Exceptions" (see Box A) for the given benefit. Also, for IB & ESA a claimant can still treated as Incapable of Work in certain "Exceptional Circumstances", even when their point score is not high enough.

10. Therefore, the proposal might serve either as an "Exception" or "Exceptional Circumstance" for claimants who after completing their course of study, have had their Loan liability written off by the Authority or Loan Purchaser as outlined under the Student Loan write off clause (see Box B) in circumstances where Clause 19(2)(a) cannot be fully satisfied.

11. I feel that when a Student’s Loan Liability has been written off by the Authority or Loan Purchaser on the basis they have now become Permanently Disabled and Unfit to Work, prior to the introduction of the 2006 Welfare Reform Bill, they should not have to partake in the Work-related Requirements outlined under Clause 13 of the 2011 Welfare Reform Bill as they have already provided evidence to the Secretary of State for Education, that they little or no potential of going back to work in the long tem.

12. Because, the Education (Student Loans) Act is not recognised by the Department of Works & Pensions as being part of the Benefit Regulations, they then cannot make any exceptions for claimants who have had their Loan Liability written off as outlined under (see Box B), as I keep being told be an Adjudications officer when I enquire about my Benefit claim, which in my case causes a great deal of anxiety and distress about being declared Fit to Work, as a direct result of the changes to the Welfare System, when my claim is no longer assessed under the Incapacity Benefit Regulations.

IV. Other information

BOX A: Exceptions for certain Disabled Students in receipt of IS

1. Prior to the 1st September 1990

· A person who is a student and who, by reason of any mental or physical disability, would in comparison with other students, be unlikely to obtain employment within a "reasonable period of time". (1)

2. After the 1st September 1990

· A Student is both required to be available for employment and treated as not available for employment during the Period of Study, (2)

· Students whose applicable amount includes the disability premium or severe disability premium

BOX B: Student Loan Write-off Clause

Schedule 2

Term of Loan

Part 1

The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998 (a) Made under the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990 (b): -

12) The lender will cancel the borrower’s liability to repay the loan

if the borrower ---

(c) If the borrower can prove to the lender that he gets a disability related benefit and because of his disability is permanently unfit for work.

BOX C: Permanently unfit for work

Because of his disability is permanently unfit for work. In this context, permanently unfit for work means not being able to work again and medical evidence is required to this effect. It will be for the lender to determine that satisfactory documentary evidence has been provided.

V. Footnote

(1) Para 7, Sch 1 (before amendment) ibid

(2) S.20(1)(d)(i), SSA86 and R.8 & R.10(1)(h), IS (General) Regs

March 2011