64% oppose student loan privatisation, new polling shows

Photo of students graduating

10 December 2015

PRESS RELEASE - check out the story in the Mirror.

New polling reveals that the public doesn’t support the selling off of national assets outlined in George Osborne’s spending review.

The polling, carried out by Survation for campaign group We Own It, finds that 64% disagree with Osborne’s plans to sell off the 1998-2012 student loan book.

Other planned asset sales are also opposed by the British public. 70% want the Land Registry to stay public. 60% believe the government should keep its stake in National Air Traffic Services and privatising the Green Investment Bank only has support from 1 in 5 of the public.

We Own It is now launching a new petition to stop the privatisation of the student loan book, planned to begin in 2016.

Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It, said "Our new polling shows that George Osborne has no mandate for privatising our national assets. His plans don’t make financial sense and put the long term future of our public services at risk. Graduates are just one of the groups of people that will be hit hard by these reckless decisions. Almost every family in the UK is affected by student loan privatisation, and when 64% of us are against the plans, it's time for a rethink from government."

Sorana Vieru, NUS vice president, said "Selling off the student loan book is yet another short-sighted move by the government in regards to student finance. This is financial illiteracy merely undermines the strength of public finances for future generations. These results show that even outside of the higher education sector there is little support for this plan, and George Osbourne needs to listen to what the wider public are telling him."

In the spending review Osborne confirmed plans to sell off the pre-2012 income contingent repayment student loan book, worth an estimated £12 billion. He was also criticised for freezing the student loan repayment threshold, meaning the average graduate will pay back an extra £3000. The decision to privatise student loans has been criticised by Martin Wolf at the Financial Times. The government today is already £240 million worse off because of the previous Labour decision to sell off pre 1998 loans.

This news follows the 25th anniversary of the Student Loan Company. This week it was highlighted that many US companies are now offering student loan repayment as an employee perk, suggesting the cost of spiralling loans can be a real burden which impacts on the choices graduates can make.

The UK government doesn’t have to consult the public before privatising student loans, and the terms of the loans can be changed without the permission of graduates.

Photo of students graduating

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