30 July 2012
Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry and Education Minister, John O’Dowd, have today launched a joint public consultation on the future of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme.
The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on a range of options for the future structure of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme. It follows a formal review, which was jointly commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning and the Department of Education, to ascertain whether the scheme is continuing to meet its original objectives.
Minister Farry said: “Both my Department and the Department of Education are committed to the retention of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme. Findings from our joint review highlighted that only one-third of students receiving Education Maintenance Allowance indicated that they would not have remained in education had they not received it. This indicates that the scheme could be better targeted at those young people from lower income families who otherwise would not have carried on with their post 16 education without the incentive of Education Maintenance Allowance.”
Minister O’Dowd added: “The Education Maintenance Allowance makes a real difference to many lower income families. We are determined that we target this support to where it is really needed, to ensure young people are not forced out of education and training for financial reasons. The consultation options have been developed with this intention and any changes to the EMA scheme will be closely monitored to ensure they meet this objective.”
Five options for the future structure of Education Maintenance Allowance have been considered and costed in light of the need to better target the scheme. These options are structured around the existing scheme and look at the three weekly payment bands, the bonus payments and the household income thresholds.
An Equality Impact assessment on the options found that, while the proposed changes may result in some young people receiving less money than under the previous arrangements, there is no data to suggest that this will have adverse differential impacts on young people who fall within the section 75 categories.
The public consultation will run for 14 weeks. Responses to the consultation document, and accompanying Equality Impact Assessment, should be submitted to the Department for Employment and Learning by 5pm, Friday 2 November.