Setting the record straight on maintenance payments

24th October 2008 at 01:00

Your headline "Haysom resists inquiry as students wait for their cash" (FE Focus, October 17) is misleading. I fully recognise that the delay in education maintenance allowance payments has caused significant difficulties to some young people and deeply regret that this is the case. But I have never "resisted" a call for an inquiry.

This is not the time to hold an investigation or have this debate. At present, we are focusing all our energies on working closely with Liberata to make sure the good progress they have made in clearing the backlog of applications continues.

I have said before that no young person should miss out on any payments as a result of the delays. And this is why we have worked with ministers to waive the 28-day limit on backdating payments, so that students who send in their applications by October 31 will have all their payments backdated to the start of their course.

I can assure your readers that Liberata's performance in processing applications is improving; they have employed extra staff and introduced extra shifts to ease the backlog - all at their own cost.

As of October 13, 580,000 applications had been processed and 300,000 notice of entitlements issued to young people.

Mark Haysom, Chief executive, Learning and Skills Council.

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