Why is Student Finance England so completely incompetent?

My apologies in advance I’m in a ranty mood this week!

Some argue our public services are the best in the world. For me the jury is out on that one. I think there are huge variations. However as far as the people delivering public services are concerned these must rank amongst the worst in the world. The public sector and those public services that were historically part of the state and haven’t managed to shake off their state run shackles employ some of the rudest, smug jobsworths I have ever come across with the worst customer service an organisation with any competition would never be able to get away with and an attitude of ” I’m doing you a favour so I will treat you how I bloody well like!” From BT, the energy companies, train conductors to refuse collectors, postmen and teachers!

I can’t speak for every council in the UK but if Wakefield MDC had some competition for their public services they would go bust in a week. That’s the problem though we don’t have a choice who fixes our potholes or who empties our bins. The bin men get paid no matter how poor they treat their customers. I have to pay my council tax or I go to prison. I can complain to the council and they can go to through the motions of fobbing me off but nothing changes. Nothing has to change. If Asda deliver up bad service we can go to Tesco. With local authorities there is no choice. This surely is the perfect argument for mass privatisation and outsourcing of public services to the private sector!

I went to my local council office last week for a form. First of all if this was any other organisation I would have been able to download the form from their website but not the council. I went in and was pleased there was nobody else waiting. I went to the desk where 3 smug looking jobsworths were sat doing nothing. I opened my mouth to speak and before “can I have a form” could come out smug#1 told me to take a seat and they would be with me in a minute. Can you imagine being told to take a seat until they can be bothered to deal with you when you go to check in at Holiday Inn reception? After 5 minutes smug#2 beckoned me over. I asked for my form. She pulled it out if a drawer. I left the building. Why do council staff have little man/ woman syndrome? The power they must have got from making me wait for no reason, from taking away 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back must have given them such satisfaction.

By far the biggest offenders in the incompetence league this week though is Student Finance England. It is fantastic that any English citizen is entitled to a tuition fee and living costs loan to go to university to study a full time degree meaning income is not a barrier to higher education ( don’t be fooled by all the student debt scaremongering stories). It is the best loan you will ever have. As a mature student of 32 I’m fairly sure I’ll be dead before ever paying it off. The problem isn’t that you can’t get funds for your studies it is that the incompetent ***** at Student Finance and their inability to physically transfer the funds to your bank account! Once again were up against choice! There isn’t an abundance of choice for student finance. You either have an extremely rich mummy and daddy or you apply to student finance. Captive market hence the “I’m doing you a favour so I will treat you how I bloody well like!” approach as discussed above. What can you do? You can ring them and be on hold for an eternity and not get the information you want. You can rant on their Facebook page. If this was Sainsbury’s your ranting might embarrass them to buck their ideas up but as student finance are not accountable to anyone or have no competition then they’re not really bothered your 270 miles from your home and family, in Durham (other cities exist) with 27 pence in your pocket looking at Student finance website saying you will be paid your first instalment of your loan on 10th September and it’s now the 15th and your bank account is zero! Bearing in mind most 18 year old students will have no experience away from home and even less of managing finances it must be pretty scary when the money doesn’t arrive in your account especially when all the wording on the student finance website suggests all has gone through ok. Why would you think the word “approved” would mean anything other then approved? Yet every year despite students getting their applications in at the start of January and registering at their universities at the start of August, signing all the paperwork, sending off all the evidence but worst of all receiving correspondence worded in a way suggesting it is all sorted but then come the end of September Student finance have not paid out!

Get your act together! This is not acceptable!

P

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