Ruffley's latest House of Commons question reveals disappointing Suffolk student grant figures

Tuesday, 15 November, 2005

David Ruffley MP has today expressed his concern at the shocking level of mismanagement he has exposed within Suffolk Local Education Authority (LEA). At the start of the 2005 academic year 32 percent of students who had applied for student loans or grants had not even had their application processed by Suffolk LEA.

In 2004 the figure was even worse with 41 percent of students left waiting for funding vital to their continued study at the start of the academic year.

David Ruffley disclosed these new figures by questioning Bill Rammell, Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills, on Suffolk LEA's performance over the last two years.

David has today written to Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, and Acting Director of Learning at Suffolk LEA, David Thornton, asking them to justify these figures and to explain exactly what is being done to ensure Suffolk's students are not in a similar situation in 2006.

David said:

'These figures are quite simply unacceptable. At the start of this academic year over 2800 students from Suffolk had not received the funding they applied for.

'I am staggered that so many students entered this vital stage of their academic career with a question mark hanging over their finances for no other reason than Suffolk LEA had failed to process their applications.

'Starting university is a very stressful time for both students and parents and to enter a new environment unsure of your finances can only make matters worse.

'The Minister now tells me other local authorities had to be called in to provide assistance to Suffolk LEA in order to help with the timely processing of their applications. I think Suffolk students deserve better service than this.

'At Staffordshire LEA, during the same period they received over 14,200 applications and managed to process 89 percent of these by 16 September. Why at Suffolk LEA, where the number of applications was far lower, were they only able to process 68 percent?

'This is not a matter I am going to allow to rest. I have taken this issue up on behalf of parents and students across the county with both Ruth Kelly and David Thornton at Suffolk LEA. I have asked them both to justify these figures and to provide assurances that at the start of the 2006 academic year the same problem will not occur.'