More than a third of 16 to 19 pupils receive grant

17th December 2010 at 00:00

More than a third of senior pupils in Scotland last year received the education maintenance allowance - the payment designed to keep 16 to 19- year-olds from poor families in education - according to new figures published by the Scottish Government.

The allowance - which the coalition Government is scrapping in England - was protected in the Scottish Government's draft budget last month.

A review of the scheme had been scheduled in Scotland for December, but these plans had now been abandoned, said a Scottish Government spokesman.

The number of teenagers receiving the payment has dropped by 5 per cent in Scotland - from 39,000 in 2008-09 to 37,230 in 2009-10, following the decision last year to drop the payments of pound;10 and pound;20 a week to new entrants. The cost of the scheme also fell from pound;35.4 million to pound;33.2m.

Education Secretary Michael Russell described the figures showing that a quarter of recipients lived in one of Scotland's 15 per cent most deprived areas as "proof" that the Scottish Government was right to keep the payments.

"By continuing to invest in EMAs, we are ensuring that young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have the opportunity to improve their life chances by staying on in learning," he said.

Labour, however, accused the Government of taking pound;6m out of the pockets of Scotland's poorest families through its decision in June to scrap EMA bonus payments this academic year.

According to the new figures, last year youngsters from the poorest backgrounds benefited from pound;5.8m worth of bonus payments for meeting attainment and attendance targets.

emma.seith@tes.co.uk.

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