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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, responds to the Prime Minister’s latest speech on skills, announcing a new flexible lifelong loan entitlement to four years of post-18 education.

Responding, Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, said:

“Just as the Government is providing loans for businesses to stay afloat and adapt in the changing economy, it has now recognised it needs to do so for individuals grappling with a changing labour market.

“Flexible lifetime learning loan accounts, as Bright Blue has recommended, would be an effective way of ensuring that people at any point in their working lives are able to access funding for any type of training to upskill or reskill. A generous pot of government-backed finance from the age of 18 for any type of learning, not just for a succession of university degrees, would especially support those now out of work because of Covid-19. And making future repayments income-contingent would avoid it being costly to the taxpayer.

“The details still need finalising, but the entitlement should be generous enough to support the completion of multiple courses above and beyond an undergraduate degree, but limited to the extent that it might cause greater price competition in university fees because students want to bank enough in their accounts for future courses beyond their first degree.”

Bright Blue’s ideas of a lifetime loan account is explained in further detail in our 2015 report Going part-time?.