MSE News

Queen's Speech 2021 round-up: student loans shake-up, increased rights for renters, leasehold reform & more

Flexible 'lifetime' student loans, increased rights for renters, leasehold reform, and more protection for those using the internet were among the plans revealed by the Queen today during the state reopening of Parliament.

As is often the case with the Queen's Speech, we rarely have the full details, so here's what we know so far:

  • More opportunities to retrain in later life through the introduction of a flexible student loan. As part of the Government's 'Lifetime Skills Guarantee', it has pledged to improve access to higher and university education for adults looking to retrain. This initiative will be rolled out across the UK under the 'UK Skills and Post-16 Education Bill' and will be supported via a new 'Lifelong Loan Entitlement'. This is what we know about the loan so far:

    - It'll be available to anyone over the age of 16 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
    - It'll be equivalent to up to four years' worth of student loans. 
    - Borrowers will be able to use the loan 'flexibly' over their lifetime. 
    - They will be able to use the loan at college and university.

    We've asked the Government for more info and we'll update this story when we know more. In the meantime, for the current student loans system, see our Student Loans Mythbusting guide.

  • The rights of private renters in England to be bolstered – including the introduction of a lifetime tenancy deposit. The Government says it hopes to help millions of people in private rented accommodation in England. A White Paper dealing with the details of renter reform will be published in full in the autumn, but the Government's plans include:

    - Continuing its consultation on the possible abolition of Section 21 'no-fault' evictions. Currently, private landlords can evict tenants with two months' notice once their fixed-term contract has ended, without giving a reason.
    - Publishing proposals for a new 'lifetime' tenancy deposit. Currently, renters have to pay a new deposit each time they move from one rented accommodation to another.
    - Enhancing renters' access to redress schemes and requiring all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme in order to "drive up standards" in the rental sector.

    See our 50+ Tips For Renters guide, which covers rental rights, energy tips, letting fees and more. 
  • Greater protection to be given to leasehold homeowners by doing away with ground rents. Earlier this year, the Government outlined sweeping proposals to make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to extend their lease by announcing plans to introduce caps on what can be charged for lease extensions, as well as by reducing future ground rents to zero.

    While the Queen's Speech and the draft Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill don't appear to cover proposed limits on the cost of extending a lease, it did reiterate the Government's intention to introduce a zero-ground rent policy for all new residential leases going forward in England and Wales. There was no indication, however, of when this bill will likely become law.

    Are you a leaseholder? Read up on the difference between leasehold and freehold in our Leasehold versus Freehold guide.

  • People WON'T be protected from scam ads by the Online Safety Bill. The draft bill will see new laws introduced to keep people safe online, but there is no mention of specific protection from online scam ads, emails and cloned websites.

    Martin Lewis, on behalf of (MSE) and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) – both of which he founded – says the Government has "failed to protect millions" from financial and mental harm. He hopes this issue will be looked at again as the bill passes through Parliament and the House of Lords. MSE and the MMHPI, alongside 15 other organisations, had called on the Government to use the bill to help protect people from an avalanche of online scams.

    See our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide for more help on how to avoid scams and what to do if you think you've been caught out.

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