Educational Maintenance Allowance bonuses cut

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The Department of Children, Schools and Families is to cut educational maintenance allowance bonus payments after 2010.

The decision, which follows the pre-Budget report, will mean pupils on the means-tested Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme - who receive payments of between £10 - £30 a week to stay in school - will no longer get their bi-annual payments of an extra £100.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP, said: "Some people will be disappointed, but in these tough times it's the only way to keep expanding opportunities to more young people.

"Young people shouldn't need a bonus of £100 every six months to convince them to stay on - not on top of the weekly money they're receiving."

Mr Balls told the BBC: "I'm making a very difficult decision to take away the bonuses from young people doing educational maintenance allowances."

He added that the removal of the EMA bonus element would allow the department to create 80,000 additional college places for school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds by September 2010.

However, commenting on the pre-Budget report, he said that Chancellor's financial plans for the education sector mean that one to one tuition for struggling pupils is now "guaranteed".

A DCSF spokesman said the overall EMA budget is being increased to almost £580m as a result of the twice yearly bonus being scrapped.

EMA payments are available to 16, 17 and 18-year-olds from low-income backgrounds provided they meet individual academic targets agreed with their schools.

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