The Government is abolishing the EMA because it says that evaluation evidence from the EMA pilots as well as more recent research suggests that around 90% of recipients would have stayed on after age 16 even if they had not received EMA. It therefore is not affordable it claims in the current financial climate. The 643,000 young people who received EMA in 2009/10 represent around 32% of all 16-18 year olds in England , or 47% of those in full-time education. Up to the end of December 2010 603,000 students were in receipt of EMA.
From September 2011 the enhanced learner support fund replaces EMA and ‘will be administered by schools and colleges, enabling them to support those young people who face a real financial barrier to participation.’ Currently £26m per year is given to schools, colleges and training providers (a ‘discretionary learner support’ fund) to enable them to make small payments to young people to help them meet the costs of learning. After the EMA is abolished this fund will be increased. No decision yet though on how much funding will be made available under the Enhanced Learner Support Fund, for 2011/2 . A decision is expected this March .
The purpose of discretionary funding is to provide exceptional support to learners aged 16 and above, who are experiencing financial difficulty with meeting costs associated with learning.
The funds are prioritised for those who face financial hardship. They can be used to help with:
financial hardship and emergencies
childcare costs (for Ofsted-registered childcare)
accommodation costs, for those who have to study further than the maximum distance from home
essential course-related equipment, materials and field trips
travel costs (for over 18s)
From 2011/12, decisions regarding the ‘enhanced discretionary fund’ will be made locally, enabling, the Government says, ‘ schools, colleges and training providers to target support at those young people in greatest need.’ The new funds will be available from the start of the 2011/12 academic year but it is highly unlikely that the amount of funding available under EMA (£580m 2008/9) will be remotely matched by that which will be available under the Enhanced Learner Support Funding arrangements.
(Source Hansard ;10 January 2011)
Note up-date; PS
The government has just announced (28 March) a £180m bursary scheme to replace the Education Maintenance Allowances which were scrapped in England last year. The £560m EMA scheme had provided up to £30 a week to help low-income students stay on at sixth forms and colleges. Education Secretary Michael Gove said the revised system would provide a “more targeted” support system. The new bursaries consist of a guaranteed annual payment of £1,200 to about 12,000 16 to 19-year-olds who are in care, have left care or are on income support.The remaining £165m will provide a fund that schools and colleges can spend on a discretionary basis, with college principals able to decide the level of grant, how frequently it is paid and any conditions attached, such as behaviour or attendance.