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Queen’s Speech unveils plans for flexible student loans for all adults

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Every adult in the UK will have access to a flexible loan for higher education and training that they can use at any point in their lives, under plans laid out today.

The government will introduce the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill on 18 May. The legislation will include a new student finance system to transform the current student loans system.

The ‘Lifelong Loan Entitlement’ will reform the way student finance is structured. The loan will give all individuals access to the equivalent of four years of student loans for higher-level study. The loans can be used flexibly across a person’s lifetime, full-time or part-time, for modules or full qualifications, for high-quality technical qualifications and academic education.

The government says this change will provide the skills that people need for well-paid jobs and opportunities to train throughout their lifetime. Meanwhile employers will have a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, through a “Skills Accelerator” programme.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.

“I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”

No progress on adult social care

The Queen’s Speech was expected to offer more clarity on adult social care reform – but it failed to deliver. Instead, it simply promised to “bring proposals forward”.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: “Social care has proven a particularly thorny issue for successive governments. Throw in getting the UK’s finances back on a sounder footing post pandemic and the challenge for the government is even stiffer.

“But one of the key learnings from the pandemic is how vitally important it is to have a high quality, properly funded care system to protect some of our most vulnerable elderly. How that’s delivered and how its funded are both essential components of a long-term solution.”