Dear Student Loans Company Limited,

For the academic year 2019/2020, how many payments that have been due have been delayed for a period of more that 1 week from the due date for the payment as a result of system or administrative errors? How many students have been affected by these delays? How many of those payments still have not been payed out?

Giving as much detail as possible, what are the causes of these system or administrative errors? What are procedures that have been put in place to mitigate these type of errors? What direct action has been taken to prevent against these delays from previous years where there have been system or administrate errors?

What procedures have been put in place by SLC to help the students affected by these delays? If students have had credit scores affected by the result of not receiving those payments, as there specific procedures in place to compensate them?

I am defining a system error to payments as one whereby the payments have already been approved and are due to be payed out to the students, but due to system/administrative errors within SLC, there have been delays to sending out those payments, with a delay of more than 7 days.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Rashid.

SLC FOI Requests - Do Not Reply, Y Cwmni Benthyciadau i Fyfyrwyr

This is an automated response to let you know that your email has been
received by the Student Loans Company Limited ("SLC").

SLC's Freedom of Information Office is only able to deal with requests for
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("FOIA"). If your
email relates to a request for information under the FOIA, a separate
acknowledgement will be issued with a request reference.

If your email is in relation to a student finance application or account
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your email will be passed to the relevant department. Alternatively,
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If your email is not a customer enquiry then it has been passed to the
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FOI Requests, Y Cwmni Benthyciadau i Fyfyrwyr

Dear Mr Rashid

Thank you for your email dated 26th November 2019.

Your request is being considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”).

Your request has been allocated reference number 240-19.

We will respond to you under the terms of the FOIA and within 20 working
days.

We will contact you further for clarification of your request if this is
considered necessary.  

Yours sincerely

Louise Chapman | Senior Legal Executive
Student Loans Company
100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 7JD
e: 32080  t: 0141 306 2080

[1]www.gov.uk/slc
Follow us at [2]Twitter/SLCcomms for the latest corporate news and updates

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FOI Requests, Y Cwmni Benthyciadau i Fyfyrwyr

Dear Mr Rashid

I refer to your recent email dated 26^th November 2019 requesting the
following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”).

"For the academic year 2019/2020, how many payments that have been due
have been delayed for a period of more that [sic] 1 week from the due date
for the payment as a result of system or administrative errors? How many
students have been affected by these delays? How many of those payments
still have not been payed [sic] out?

Giving as much detail as possible, what are the causes of these system or
administrative errors? What are procedures that have been put in place to
mitigate these type of errors? What direct action has been taken to
prevent against these delays from previous years where there have been
system or administrate [sic] errors?

What procedures have been put in place by SLC to help the students
affected by these delays? If students have had credit scores affected by
the result of not receiving those payments, as [sic] there specific
procedures in place to compensate them?

I am defining a system error to payments as one whereby the payments have
already been approved and are due to be payed [sic] out to the students,
but due to system/administrative errors within SLC, there have been delays
to sending out those payments, with a delay of more than 7 days."

Response

Student finance payments being regarded as late or delayed as they are
made after the expected payment date is a subjective view - we would not
consider any payments to be late if we received the application after the
advertised deadline/start of the academic year or were unable to fully
process the application due to awaiting:
·        information/evidence;
·        the student’s and/or sponsors’ declaration form;
·        attendance confirmation from the Higher Education Provider
(“HEP”);
·        validation of the student’s National Insurance Number (“NINO”);
and
·        valid bank details being provided by the student.

Furthermore, SLC does not advise students of the actual date payments will
arrive in their bank accounts but expected payment dates.  All students
who are eligible for, and entitled to, student finance will receive a
Notification of Entitlement letter which provides the following caveat:

“Your university or college may ask to see the payment information we’ve
provided. You need to keep this letter safe, and may need to take it with
you when you register. Your first payment will only be made after your
attendance has been confirmed to us by your university or college.”

All students due a second and third instalment for maintenance funding
would be paid in line with their expected payment due dates. This would be
subject to any exceptions, such as bank details/awaiting NINO/account
under review or the HEP has advised that the student had since withdrawn
from or suspended their studies. The reason for this is that confirmation
of registration is required for the first maintenance instalment only,
before funds are released to a student. Subsequent second and third
instalments are automatically released in line with the term dates
provided by the HEP.    

Taking this information into consideration and consulting with the
appropriate departments within SLC I have concluded that, even if the
definition of “delayed payment” were to be revised, the cost of complying
with your request would exceed the appropriate limit set out in the
Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004.  The limit applying to us is £450 or 2.5 days
(calculated to be 18 hours of staff time at £25 per hour).

The information would therefore be exempt under section 12(1) of the FOIA.
 

To offer advice and assistance, we can confirm that in the event of a
system/administrative error affecting payments, manual payments for
maintenance funding can be made in due course if necessary, depending on
the customer's academic year and course.  Manual payments will not be
required if there is a current system error and a payment is not due.  For
example, if we are currently in June, a customer's course starts in
September of the next academic year and there is currently a system error,
there will be no requirement to make a manual payment as it would not be
due. The maintenance funding will only be paid manually provided the error
is still in place at the point the customer's first term has started. In
addition to this, manual payments will also strictly follow the term-based
scheduling of payments normally and adhere to the customer’s assessed
entitlement - so the term 2 payment could not be paid until the standard
term 2 payment date has been reached, even if the system error persists. A
manual payment may not always be appropriate, for example, if there is any
information still outstanding, payment has already been released etc.
In terms of any requests for compensation, SLC is authorised by its
sponsoring department, the Department for Education, to make offers of ex-
gratia payments to customers in cases of service level failures and/or
complaints.  Any such payments should be in line with HM Treasury's
Managing Public Money guidance and SLC's ex-gratia policy.

Internal review process

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review.

Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date
of receipt of the response to your original request and should be
addressed to the Freedom of Information Office, Student Loans Company
Limited, 100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 7JD,  or by email:
[SLC request email].  Please remember to quote the reference number
above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House  
Water Lane  
Wilmslow  
Cheshire  
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Louise Chapman | Senior Legal Executive
Student Loans Company
100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 7JD
e: 32080  t: 0141 306 2080

[1]www.gov.uk/slc
Follow us at [2]Twitter/SLCcomms for the latest corporate news and updates

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References

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