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Education Maintenance Allowance

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the total cost was of the bonuses paid through the education maintenance allowance for submitting course work on time in the latest period for which figures are available; when the bonus was introduced; and if he will make a statement. (225416)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and hold information about payments made under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the LSC’s Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member for Yeovil with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library. EMA bonuses were included in the pilots and have been an integral part of the scheme since its beginning in 1999.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 15 October 2008:

I am writing in response to your Parliamentary Questions that asked; “what the total cost was of the bonuses paid through the Education Maintenance Allowance for submitting course work on time in the latest period for which figures are available; when the bonus was introduced” and “how many local authorities allow people enrolled on an entry to employment programme to apply for education maintenance allowance online; what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the online application process”.

The total Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) bonus payments paid out during the academic year 2007/8 amounted to £68.2m. Bonus payments are paid based on an agreement between the individual learning provider and the individual learner and upon the learner achieving the aims of this agreement. It is not possible to say how many learners achieved a bonus for submitting coursework on time. Bonus payments were introduced at the same time as EMA was rolled out nationally in 2004/5.

From 2008/09 all eligible learners who enrol on an E2E program are entitled to receive EMA on a non-income assessed basis which means they receive the maximum amount of £30 award.

The Learning and Skills Council contracted Liberata to introduce an online application system this year for the first time. We regret that a delay occurred to the launch of the new online learner application system because of some issues with the system in testing, and wanted to ensure that it was absolutely right before making it available to learners.

It is important to note that, as in previous years, learners are able to apply for EMA by paper application forms that are available from schools, colleges, connexions services, learning providers and by calling the helpline.

The number of applications received is broadly in line with our expectations for the year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which companies bid for the education maintenance allowance contract which was awarded to Liberata; and by what criteria such bids were assessed. (226047)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The LSC contracts with Liberata UK Ltd to carry out the helpline, assessment and payment function. Mark Haysom, the LSC’s Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

Letter from Mark Haysom, dated 15 October 2008:

I am writing in response to your Parliamentary Questions that asked; “Which companies bid for the education maintenance allowance contract which was awarded to Liberate; and by what criteria such bids were assessed.”

Over 30 companies showed an expression of interest but only two progressed to competitive dialogue. Capita and Liberata bid for the contract to administer the Learner Support Programme, of which Education Maintenance Allowance is a part.

The LSC carried out the procurement process in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 using competitive dialogue. This allowed the LSC to work closely with both bidders over a number of months ensuring that there was understanding of requirements and potential solutions on both sides. At the end of this both bidders were asked to submit a proposal and that was evaluated against an agreed evaluation model. The key criteria were quality and cost, which included making assessments of their operational delivery capability, technical solutions, project and programme management, proposals for handling transition arrangements, value for money, and sensitivity to increases in volumes of applications.