To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how long on average it took to complete applications for education maintenance allowance from application to confirmation of award in the 10 per cent. of cases which took longest to process in the latest period for which figures are available.
I have been asked to reply.
This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who operate the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and hold information about applications made under the scheme. Mark Haysom, the LSC's chief executive has written to Mr. Smith with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.
Letter from Mark Haysom, dated
I am writing in response to your Parliamentary Questions that asked:- "how long on average it took to complete applications for education maintenance allowance (EMA) from application to confirmation of award in the 10 per cent of cases which took longest to process" and "what the average time taken to complete applications for EMA was from receipt of application to confirmation of award in the latest period for which figures are available".
Due to the difficulties we are currently experiencing with EMA processing. It is difficult to be precise about the average time taken to process an application. We are seeking to improve it all the time.
Each year a substantial minority of applications are received with information missing. In these cases, they will have to be sent back to the applicant who is asked to provide the information and return it to us. We can only continue processing that application once it is sent back to us.
In all cases where an application is initially received before the end of October and an applicant is eligible for EMA all payments will be backdated and no one will miss out for EMA that they are entitled to.