New figures on education maintenance allowances (EMAs) show that about 30 per cent of 16-year-olds received the means-tested payments in the first six months of the scheme being operated across Scotland.
Interim statistics for the period August 2004 to January this year show that 78 per cent of participants received the maximum weekly payment of pound;30, and that 86 per cent of all EMA funding was used to support students entitled to the maximum amount.
The allowances, designed as an incentive to persuade more young people to stay on full-time at school or college, are worth pound;10, pound;20 or pound;30 a week. Following satisfactory attendance and completion of a learning agreement, bonus payments of pound;150 are payable in January and June.
Some 10,930 students received a bonus in January. Female recipients were marginally more likely to gain a bonus than males. Those entitled to the Pounds 30 weekly payment were less likely to receive a bonus than other EMA recipients.
Maintenance allowances were introduced across Scotland from August 2004 for 16-year-olds. In the coming two years, eligibility will extend to 17 and 18-year-olds. The scheme was piloted in East Ayrshire, Glasgow, Dundee and West Dunbartonshire.