Customer First Programme: Delivery of Student Finance

HC 424, Eighth Report of Session 2010-11 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence

House of Commons - Committee of Public Accounts
TSO (The Stationery Office)

'Customer First Programme: Delivery of Student Finance (HC 424)' examines the delivery of grants and loans to higher education students in England by the Student Loans Company, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

In 2009 the Student Loans Company began assessing applications from new students taking ownership of this from local authorities; by 2011 it will be responsible for applications from all students in England.

Performance in processing applications and communicating with students in this first year was completely unacceptable. Many students waited weeks or months for their financial support. Fewer than half of all applications were fully processed by the start of term, and applications took on average a third longer to process than local authorities had achieved.

The Student Loans Company answered fewer than half the calls it received in 2009; in September 87% of calls went unanswered.

Disabled students suffered disproportionately in 2009, as the Company devoted too few staff to processing their applications.

The Company also demonstrated a number of IT failings in 2009: most importantly, it did not sufficiently test its crucial document scanning - the failure of which was the catalyst for the failure of the entire system.

This report finds that the Department underestimated the risks of centralising the service, the Programme Board lacked skills and experience, and there was poor communication between the Programme Board, the Company's Board, and the Department.

There has been limited improvement in 2010 but uncertainties remain over the Company's ability to deliver and maintain a service that provides value for money.

Extent 46 pages ISBN 9780215555496
Size A4 Price £11.00
Format Paperback Published 07 Dec 2010
Availability Colour copy: 3 - 5 days Availability help (opens in new window) Delivery Delivery options and charges
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