You Ain’t Nobody Until You Have Someone Working For You

22 May

You may recall that I posted an article some time ago about my problems trying to repay my student loan – a problem caused not by the shortage of money, but by the Student Loans Agency being unwilling to actually take the money. I wrote to them and offered to pay. They basically told me to wait (and keep collecting interest) until the end of the year, or jump through a series of hoops to prove I can pay.

At this point, my accountant (in the course of doing battle with the dreaded tax return) told me that this was a tax headache and should be disposed of as quickly as possible. I forwarded the letter I’d been sent and asked for advice. My accountant rang the agency and managed to get them to actually send payment details. Clearly, people who have accountants are important. I never knew I was important before.

Let’s say that again. I needed to get an accountant, who I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t needed assistance with the tax return, to pry some useful payment details out of them.

(To be fair, someone who can afford to pay an accountant can probably afford to pay his debts.)

OK … so I followed the instructions and paid off all, but a tiny portion of my debt. I was told to wait and they would send me the final bill. And I waited. And waited … and nothing happened. Eventually, I checked with my accountant again and asked for details. They explained I had to call the agency myself this time.

So I did. And they told me, after much hemming and hawing and security verification, that I owed the staggeringly preposterously enormously gigantic colossal sum of … £9.87.

And I paid on the spot.

The good news is that I no longer have any student loans.

The middling news is that I have to call them again next week to get a certificate to prove it.

The bad news is that the whole system is designed to make it hard to actually pay.

It seems to be remarkably easy to avoid paying. If you don’t earn over a certain amount, you don’t have to pay at all. If you do and you work for a big company, it gets handled by the same people who arrange for you to pay your taxes. If you pretty much work for yourself, as I do, it’s a lot harder to honour your obligations. Quite frankly, I was tempted to simply forget it. There doesn’t seem to be any enforcement system. (Which, given how few people find a job that can pay quickly, is probably not such a bad thing.)

But here is my point. I don’t like being in debt. If I have to take a loan, I want to pay it back as quickly as possible. And yet … paying a greater sum each month or even paying it off in one lump seems to be made difficult. What is the point of a system that hands out money freely, yet doesn’t even try to collect it?

And then we wonder why we have economic trouble.


6 Responses to “You Ain’t Nobody Until You Have Someone Working For You”

  1. lamparty May 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    The Banks are in business to maximize return on investment, that means dragging out the payments as long as possible to generate the maximum amount of interest! You are lucky they didn’t charge you a fee for paying off the debt early!

    • chrishanger May 22, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

      Bloody silly when 3/4ths of those loans will never be repaid … Chris Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 19:53:29 +0000 To:

      • Joel May 28, 2014 at 2:19 am #

        Most government servants are not working to make sense or to help people. They are working to ensure the system continue to run smoothly for the sake of the all mighty system.

        All hail the System!!!

      • chrishanger May 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

        Yep, but they’re not even good at doing that! Chris Date: Wed, 28 May 2014 01:19:20 +0000 To:

  2. Bob Costello May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Didn’t you write about debt peonage in some of your books? This is their aim.

    • chrishanger May 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      Yep. But it also seems pointless. My student debt was around £11’000. Magnify that by the 1000s of students in my university alone and the loans company has a major problem. I’d bet good money that most of those loans will never be repaid. You can’t force people to repay money if they don’t have the money. That’s the problem with debt peonage. Sooner or later, people will say ‘screw it’. Chris Date: Fri, 23 May 2014 10:00:31 +0000 To:

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