Student Loan Interest Rates

Lord Sikka Excerpts
Wednesday 27th March 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Asked by
Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka
- Hansard - -

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the level of interest being charged on student loans.

Baroness Barran Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Baroness Barran) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, our recent reforms, implemented in August 2023, ensure that the student loan system is fairer for taxpayers and for students. New students on the new loan terms will benefit from a reduction in interest rates to the retail prices index only. This ensures that they will not repay, under those terms, more than they originally borrowed when adjusted for inflation.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, unlike residents of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Scotland and Spain, people living in England pay university tuition fees—a major cause of the student debt of more than £206 billion and rising. The average debt of £45,000 currently attracts a 7.7% compound interest rate and is rising. Can the Minister explain why the interest rate on student debt is higher in real terms than the equivalent interest charged on a mortgage?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the noble Lord knows the answer to his question: it is not appropriate to compare mortgages with student debt, which is unsecured and expires and does not have to be repaid in full. The noble Lord shakes his head, but he can do the maths: a mortgage is asset-backed, and one has to repay it; a student loan is not asset-backed and expires. As the noble Lord knows, under the current system, the vast majority of students do not repay it in full.

Earnings: Mothers and Fathers

Lord Sikka Excerpts
Wednesday 13th March 2024

(3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Asked by
Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka
- Hansard - -

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the research by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed showing that mothers in the United Kingdom earned £4.44 less an hour than fathers in 2023.

Baroness Barran Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Baroness Barran) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, data on the gender pay gap is collected by the Office for National Statistics and published annually, with the latest results published in November 2023. These showed that the pay gap between men and women in full-time work aged 30 to 39, which is the average age of parents when they first have children, was 4.7% in 2023, down from 11% in 1997. The publication does not include information on pay gaps between mothers and fathers, and this information is not included in any routine publication of the ONS. The results of the analysis and the data and methods that were used by the group Pregnant Then Screwed have not been published; the Government are therefore unable to assess their basis.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, my Question is about the motherhood penalty, which is also a major cause of child poverty. The 2016 survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission reported that 77% of working mothers experienced discrimination during pregnancy and maternity leave and on return from maternity leave. The Minister said that the Government do not have any information. Why not? Why do the Government not collect any data about pregnancy and maternity discrimination suffered by women? In the absence of that information, how can they eradicate that discrimination?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the noble Lord might want to look again at what I said. I absolutely did not say that the Government do not gather any information on discrimination. Our domestic law on maternity discrimination is absolutely clear: discriminating against women in the workplace because they are pregnant or new mothers is unlawful.

Children’s Care Homes: Private Equity

Lord Sikka Excerpts
Tuesday 30th January 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness will be aware that we are investing £36 million in foster care, starting with work with local authorities in the north-east to encourage recruitment of more foster carers. That programme has got off to a very good start. We have also launched the first ever national kinship care strategy, backed by £20 million of investment in the financial year 2024-25.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, private equity has already devoured care homes such as Southern Cross and Four Seasons, which actually had more subsidiaries than General Motors. Profiteering, asset stripping and tax avoidance are the basic business model in private equity. Studies have shown that private equity in care homes is making profits in the range of between 30% and 40% of the revenues. That is clearly unacceptable and is very poor value for public money. Can the Minister give an undertaking that there will be an investigation into the role of private equity in care homes and healthcare?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord will be aware that the Competition and Markets Authority has already done a great deal of work in this area and has made recommendations which are behind our commitment to a much clearer market oversight regime. We will bring forward legislative changes to enact that when parliamentary time allows.

Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households: Love Matters Report

Lord Sikka Excerpts
Tuesday 13th June 2023

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am in such shock to have such appreciation for the Government’s actions, but I thank my noble friend for his comments.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, inequalities identified in the archbishops’ commission’s report ultimately blight life. Last year, a study estimated that the Government’s austerity policies caused 335,000 excess deaths between 2012 and 2019 alone. Will the Minister answer just two questions? First, what forgiveness have the Government sought from the families of individuals killed by their policies? Secondly, will the Minister ensure that all Bills from now on are accompanied by an assessment showing their capacity to cause premature death?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to look at the research to which the noble Lord refers, but my own experience of looking at linking mortality to policy is that it is an extremely complicated business and I take exception to the suggestion that any Government—and this Government—would ever intentionally do anything that they believed would harm their people.

Schools: Data, Digital and Financial Literacy

Lord Sikka Excerpts
Tuesday 14th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is exactly what the department is doing with its T-levels.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, while reviewing the school curriculum, will the Minister ensure that pupils have access to compulsory courses on ethics and human rights? This would help to ensure that future generations are relieved of the pain caused by directors of profiteering companies and members of the Government who may be inclined to flout international laws and human rights.

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord makes a broader point. Many of those issues are indeed covered in the curriculum. Specifically in relation to financial choices, there is dedicated time to look at social and moral dilemmas, to which the noble Lord refers, within the citizenship curriculum today.