Thank you for your response.
Our initial judgement, as outlined in Ed’s public letter to you, was that the wording in the press release had the potential to be misleading. Following this, our internal review judged the wording to be misleading. The review also identified that we could have been firmer in our original findings. In the interest of transparency, we plan to publish this response to you and we will link to it from the original letter.
We acknowledge your ongoing concerns regarding the August and November press releases. DfE updated the title and the first paragraph of the August press release and we consider the new wording to be a valid way to describe the reduction of the planned rate from 7.3% to 6.3%. We consider that the press release contains important information on the changes to the student loan interest rate that should remain publicly available, therefore, we have not, and do not plan to, request that DfE redacts this press release. With regards to the original November press release, we judged that there was a lack of clarity around the reference to the 7.3% cap. We raised this with DfE and it quickly updated the press release to include more information about the cap as well as information on the previous interest rate. We consider this to be an appropriate response to the concerns raised.
We engaged with DfE throughout this process. As per our interventions policy, we consider the public interest and the value in making correspondence public. If an issue is outside our formal scope but we have chosen to look at it informally, as we did in this case, we are less likely to publish information.
Our role at the Office for Statistics Regulation is to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics. We consider that we have fully investigated your concerns within the extent of our remit and have concluded that DfE has taken appropriate and proportionate action. Based on this, we will be taking no further action in relation to the August or November press releases. However, we will continue to monitor this topic and engage with DfE if required in the future.
Ed Humpherson to Thomas Franklin: Student Loan Interest Rates (15 November 2022)