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Education Maintenance Allowance: budget update

July 4, 2014

This post highlighted that the Scottish budget shows a 6.3% fall in budgetted spending on EMAs in 2014-15, but noted that this could simply be a correction of over-budgetting in previous years.

A PQ answered this week confirms that it is a correction rather than a planned cut:

Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government whether the 6.3% fall in the Level 4 budget figure for educational maintenance allowance between 2013-14 and 2014-15 reflects the expected reduction in actual spending between the two years or an expectation that actual spending in 2013-14 would be closer to the reported actual spend of £27.8 million in 2012-13 than the £31.6 million budgeted for 2013-14. (S4W-21887)

Mr Michael Russell MSP:

The Scottish Government does not expect to reduce actual spending for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in 2014-15. The reduced budget position reflects our anticipated spend for 2014-15 which we consider will be in line with spending from previous years – £27.8 million in 2012-13 and £27.6 million in 2011-12.

EMA is an entitlement in Scotland and the Scottish Government will ensure every individual who is eligible for EMA support receives it. Unlike in England where the EMA programme has been abolished, Scottish Ministers are committed to the EMA programme and value its contribution to helping young people overcome financial barriers to access learning.

A separate parliamentary answer clarifies the data source for the expected drop in the school population.  The statistics referred to show a 2% drop expected in the total secondary school population between 2014 and 2015, although how this divides between lower and upper secondary school population is not shown.

Kezia Dugdale (Lothian) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide further detail regarding the “changing demographics in Scotland” affecting spending on education maintenance allowance that are referred to in the “explanation of significant changes from previous year” provided in the Level 4 spreadsheet for the 2014-15 budget. (S4W-21888)

Mr Michael Russell MSP:

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is an entitlement in Scotland which means that any person who meets the eligibility criteria will receive EMA support.

The explanation in the level 4 spreadsheet for the 2014-15 budget relates to the revised budget position for EMA rather than actual spend.

This revision reflects the projected decline in the number of secondary school pupils in Scotland.

The projections are available through the following web link –


As a footnote, the most recent answers do not repeat the earlier mistaken Scottish government line that EMAs have been abolished everywhere but Scotland (they continue in Wales and Northern Ireland).  In England, EMAs have been abolished, as the answer notes, and replaced with a more limited scheme, targetted on a smaller number of young people deemed to be in particular need.


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