Teenagers in the north have been talking about how a £30-a-week allowance has helped them stay in education.
Applications are open in Highland for the Education Maintenance Allowance, a weekly payment that helps hundreds of older pupils continue their schooling every year.
The means-tested allowance is available to pupils between the ages of 16 and 19. The £30 weekly goes directly to the student’s bank account.
Local authorities administer the program on behalf of the Scottish Government. In the past four years, more than 700 Highland pupils received a combined £2.8 million in benefits.
Officials are encouraging families to find out whether they are eligible and apply soon, so as not to miss out on the benefits next year.
In addition to eligibility criteria, pupils must also uphold certain standards to keep receiving the allowance. Schools draft agreements on an individual basis, but they typically require students to maintain good attendance records.
Recent Highland pupils who received the education allowance said that it has helped them manage the economic stress on their families and made it more likely for them to continue with their schooling.
Furthering educational opportunities
In the 2020-2021 school year, Highland Council alone connected almost 725 young people to £720,000 in EMA payments.
One 15 year-old student who will qualify for the payments next year said it will provide an incentive to stay in school.
EMA enabled the financial means to be able to undertake further qualifications.”
A 16 year-old student agreed.
“The school is very strict about attendance and coming in late, so it has been a good reason to adhere to rules.”
A spokesperson for the council said that the allowance also meets a direct financial need for some students.
One 17 year-old student in Highland attended an extra higher level class on Saturdays, but this made it hard to get a part-time job.
“The student was from a single-parent household with her mother being in receipt of benefits and unable to pay pocket money,” the spokesperson said.
“In this instance, EMA enabled the financial means to be able to undertake further qualifications.”
Councillor John Finlayson, chair of the council’s education committee, encouraged families to find out whether they are eligible.
“Every year, many of our young people benefit from this payment as it puts money in their pockets and supports their access to education and learning pathways. I am encouraging all young people…who are eligible to apply, to do so as quickly as possible.
“This will ensure they do not miss out on £30.00 every week, during each of the school terms, from August.”
Who can apply for the education maintenance allowance?
Students from families within a certain income bracket are eligible to apply for the allowance.
Eligibility for EMA is based upon the total taxable household income for 2020/21, up to £24,421 for households with 1 child and up to £26,884 for households with 2 or more children. Do you qualify? Find out https://t.co/QAGNa69M5f
— The Highland Council (@HighlandCouncil) June 3, 2021
In addition to the income requirements, there are other eligibility criteria. As a student, you must:
- Have what is called ‘ordinary residency’ in Scotland, meaning you live in one place.
- Be between the age of 16-19
- Be enrolled school full time, getting home education or flexi schooling, or on a full or part-time non-advanced course in a college or education centre
If you qualify for the allowance, contact your local authority to apply. In Highland, the council’s Welfare Support Team can help with the online application form.
Contact them by telephoning 0800 090 1004 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
In other local authorities, the Scottish government provides information on how to access applications.