ONS’ decision to bring student loans onto the books will raise borrowing and sets backdrop to post-18 education reforms

Published on Public Finances and the Economy

Commenting on the ONS’s decision today (Monday) to change the accounting of student loans, Matt Whittaker, Deputy Director at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Today’s decision by the ONS to bring the cost of student loans onto the books when they are issued could have major implications for the government, despite reflecting an accountancy change rather than any shift in the actual pounds and pence involved.

“It could complicate the Chancellor’s planning by adding as much as £72bn to the borrowing figures over the next five years – virtually wiping out the £74bn fiscal windfall he was handed at the recent Budget. Without tweaks to his fiscal framework, gone too is the Chancellor’s Brexit ‘deal dividend’ that he had hoped to spend next Spring.

“More importantly in many ways, today’s decision will inevitably affect the government’s approach to its ongoing review of post-18 education financing by making more explicit where the costs of the system lie with its current design.”