The TES is wrong to say that thousands of teenagers were left with empty pockets thanks to red tape surrounding Education Maintenance Allowances and that a third of those who applied had still not received cash in October despite having started their studies in September (FE Focus, December 24).
Virtually all students entitled to EMAs, who enrolled at their chosen school or college and signed personal agreements, began receiving money into their bank accounts within two weeks if they attended as agreed. The screen-based scheme has proved to be simple for schools and colleges to operate and not bureaucratic. It is designed to avoid identity fraud. Most students whose payments were delayed simply needed to provide original proof of their bank account details or family income and those who did so received back payments.
After the first term in operation of the full national scheme, more than a quarter of a million students are receiving regular weekly payments. These will also soon begin receiving their first pound;100 bonuses for good attendance. Last year all these students would have been receiving nothing.
The EMA is making a massive difference to reducing our high post-16 drop-out rate and I congratulate all colleges and schools for having helped to implement it so smoothly.
Ivan Lewis Minister for skills and vocational education Department for Education and Skills