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Disabled Students Allowance across the UK in 2013-14: spending remains lower in Scotland and Northern Ireland

December 20, 2014

Last month the SLC published the latest figures for all forms of student support spending in 2013-14 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.  The equivalent Scottish figures were published a month earlier.

As this earlier post noted, spending on Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)  in Scotland appears to have settled for now at the new, lower level established in 2012-13.

The new figures from the SLC on DSA are final for 2013-14 for Northern Ireland and near-final for England and for Wales. They show that as in 2012-13, England and Wales are spending significantly more on DSA than Scotland or Northern Ireland.

On trends, the numbers claiming and the amounts claimed rose most in England and Wales, with the average value of a claim falling slightly in England and remaining unchanged in Wales.  In Northern Ireland, the numbers claiming and the amount claimed both fell: the average fell slightly.  In Scotland numbers claiming rose, and the amount claimed rose less quickly, giving the same fall in the average as in England.

Nos claiming (000’s) Amount claimed (£m)
2013-14 Change from previous year 2013-14 Change from previous year
England 58.5 6.50% 126.1 5.10%
NI 1.6 -6% 2.8 -6.70%
Scotland 4 5.40% 7.7 3.40%
Wales 3.3 6.50% 8.1 6.60%

In absolute value, the averages  for Wales remains the highest, followed by England, then Scotland and then Northern Ireland.

2013-14 Change from previous year
England 2156 -1.90%
NI 1750 -0.80%
Scotland 1815 -1.90%
Wales 2455 0%

In Wales and England 5% of all students claimed DSA.  In Scotland and Northern Ireland the figure was 3%.  Lower average payments and low proportions of students claiming mean that spending on DSA in Scotland and Northern Ireland is worth around half that in England or Wales, pro rata the size of student body. This is much the same pattern as last year.

Total students receiving any support(000s) % claiming DSA Value of DSA per head of whole student population (£)
England 1160.8 5 109
NI 51.3 3 55
Scotland 137.3 3 53
Wales 64.4 5 126

Very early figures provided for 2014 for England and Wales suggest that claimants are significantly higher in both nations than at the same point last year (12% and more than double, respectively).  Though spending is also higher (6% and 33%), it has not risen as fast. However, these figures normally represent a relatively small share of the final numbers and so have to be treated with considerable caution.

Cuts to DSA were due in England in 2015-16, but have been put back a year. So for the moment, Wales and England seem likely to remain well ahead of the other two nations in the scale of their investment in DSA.


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