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Will repay, can't repay

Teacher struggles to find anyone to accept her loan repayments. Michael Shaw reports

Primary teacher Rachel Scott has spent the past year running up huge telephone bills and battling red-tape so she can repay her student loan.

The 26-year-old was due to start repaying her pound;8,681 loan in April 2003 during her second term at Burrough Green primary school in Newmarket, Suffolk.

She first called the Student Loans Company 13 months ago when she realised no deductions had been made from her salary.

Since then, Ms Scott has carried on calling the Glasgow-based company in her lunch breaks and holidays. Yet the matter has still not been resolved.

One Inland Revenue staff member told her that she might have been "lost" from the system and perhaps escaped paying back her loan altogether if she had not made a fuss.

"I am sure there are plenty of people who would not have bothered to be as honest as I have been, and therefore not be paying a penny of their loan back," she said.

"I know I have to repay it because the system always catches up with you in the end. I can imagine sitting there at the age of 40 and suddenly being told I have to pay it all back with interest."

Ms Scott said she had run up a "small fortune" in telephone bills thanks to her many calls.

She said she was angry that she might be charged interest on the loan for the time when she had not been able to pay.

"I am absolutely furious that this has all been left to me to sort out," she said. "The degree of incompetence I have dealt with is astonishing. How many other people will get away with not paying their loan off at all?"

Confusion still surrounds the precise reasons why Ms Scott has not begun her repayments.

She explained that the tax office which deals with Burrough Green primary suggested there might have been a mix-up in the records and that she might have been listed as working for a payroll company rather than the school.

The Student Loans Company said the Inland Revenue had not received a form which should have been sent by Capita, a firm she worked for briefly as a supply teacher. But Capita insists it did send the form.

Ian McLaren Thomson, of the Student Loans Company told The TES: "We sympathise with Rachel Scott and would like to apologise for the inconvenience, the more so because she was doing her best to meet her obligations. She will not experience any financial loss."

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