HC Deb 23 April 2002 vol 384 cc202-3W
Hywel Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discretion local Benefit Agency offices have to discount the availability of student loans when assessing income support for part-time students pursuing higher education courses. [47615]

Malcolm Wicks

Since a student loan is intended to help towards everyday living costs it is taken into account as income. However, before the weekly income is assessed, £319 of the annual loan is disregarded towards the cost of travel and £260 towards the cost of books and equipment. In addition, any grants made specifically for these costs are disregarded in full. Once the weekly loan income has been calculated a further £10 a week is disregarded.

Local offices do not have any discretion to discount student loans as income when assessing entitlement to any income-related benefit. However as part-time students generally receive an annual loan of £500, which is below the amounts allowed for travel, books and equipment, the loan will normally be disregarded in full.

If a student loan is available, it is taken into account regardless of whether it has been applied for or received. If a loan is not available, a student must provide evidence to that effect.