Loach was born in London, and studied philosophy at University College, London, intending to pursue a career in journalism. He joined the BBC where he worked as a researcher for Sue Lawley and Anne Robinson. He turned to directing in 1996 while working on the Granada TV current affairs programme World in Action. He went on to direct several episodes of Coronation Street in 2000, and subsequently directed episodes of Footballers' Wives, Bad Girls, Waterloo Road, Shameless, HolbyBlue and Hotel Babylon.
His first feature film Oranges and Sunshine was released on 1 April 2011. The film starred Emily Watson as Margaret Humphreys, the social worker who exposed the scandal of child migration. It co-starred Hugo Weaving and David Wenham.
Work on a second film collaboration, Hinterland, with Rona Munro, is reportedly underway.clarification needed]
In 2012, Loach directed Life of Crime, a thriller written by Declan Croghan. It centred on a young police officer's obsession with the killer of a young girl. Hayley Atwell played the lead part, supported by Richard Coyle and Con O'Neill. It transmitted on ITV to positive reviews in May 2013. 
In June 2015, Loach started production on his second film, Measure of a Man. The film is based on the coming-of-age novel One Fat Summer by Robert Lipsyte. The screenplay is by David Scearce, and the cast includes Donald Sutherland, Judy Greer, Luke Wilson and Blake Cooper.  The film was released nationwide in the United States on May 11th 2018 and sharply divided critics. It received its European premiere at the Rome Film Festival in October 2018.