Education allowance for poorer students down £1.6 million in a year

An allowance given to young people from poorer homes to help them stay in education has fallen by £1.6 million in a year, new figures indicate.

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is for people aged 16-19 from lower income households to overcome financial barriers to them staying in school, college or undertaking an activity agreement.

New Scottish Government figures show a total of £23 million was handed out in 2017/18, down from £24.6 million in 2017/18.

Average individual payments over the year increased by £11 to £788 in the same period.

A total of 29,135 teenagers were given the allowance in 2017/18, down 2,540 (8%) from the previous year.

The proportion of teenagers from Scotland’s most deprived areas given the allowance rose slightly from 36.8% in 2016/17 to 37.2% the following year, but the number of recipients in these areas fell by 805 to 10,810.

Most payments went to school pupils (64%) with colleges taking 31% and activity agreements making up 5%.

Just over a quarter (27%) of Scotland’s school pupils aged 16 or over were given at least one payment, as were 31% of full-time college students aged 16-19.

The EMA scheme is entitlement and demand led, and payments are administered by local authorities and colleges on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

John Swinney
Education Secretary John Swinney said the payments help remove barriers to staying in education (Jane Barlow/PA)

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “No young person should feel disadvantaged by deciding to stay in school or continue on to college.

“Education Maintenance Allowance provides welcome financial assistance to young people and their families, making the decision to stay in education easier.

“EMA is one of the measures available to offer financial support, alongside college bursaries, for example.

“It is particularly encouraging to see that this year the proportion of young people receiving EMA from our most deprived areas has continued to increase and is now up eight percentage points since 2006/07 to reach 37% of overall recipients of EMA.

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