FErret - Computer says no

Tes Editorial

Liberata, the contractor responsible for processing education maintenance allowances, is apparently now working at the required speed - living up to its self-proclaimed status as a firm that "improves, streamlines and simplifies complex operational processes".

So presumably there will be no repeat of the experience that one family brought to my attention this week.

When the EMA contract failed to turn up in the post, Mum got on the blower to chase things up, only to be told that her child's details weren't on the computer and she would have to make a fresh application. The implication being, presumably, that the application never arrived.

Imagine her surprise when, a few minutes later, the post arrived and what should drop on the mat but the contract?

She rang back to explain that the contract had arrived, expecting this would be an end to it.

Er . not quite.

She was told that, despite the arrival of the contract, there were still no details on the computer, so her child would still have to apply all over again.

Meanwhile, back at Learning and Skills Council headquarters, there is still no news on the small matter of how many teenagers are actually awaiting payment under the scheme - although the quango does have figures for the number of applications that have been processed.

And I'm delighted to report that the latest flurry of statistics from Coventry does indeed suggest things are proceeding without a hitch. Apart, that is, from the next stage in the process - the bit where the money actually arrives in the bank. Apparently, some of the payments have found their way to the wrong bank accounts.

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