Education Welfare Benefits

Who is it for?
Low-income families with children at school or college needing free school meals, clothing grants, or staying-on grants (national scheme of Education Maintenance Allowances introduced in Sept 2004). Adult Learner Grants are for people aged 19 or over. Care To Learn hels with child care costs for pupils under 20.

Who pays it?
EWB’s paid by local education authority. Discretionary except for free school meals for children on income support/income-based JSA/certain rates of tax credits . EMA and Care To Learn paid centrally.

Helplines – 080 810 16219 (EMA) and 0800 121 8989 (Care To Learn) ALG – Learning and Skills Council

Which leaflet? And how is it claimed?
LEAs have own leaflets together with application forms.
EMA – 0808 1016219 (
ALG – student services at their local college, call 0800 100 900 or visit the website  
Care To Learn – From website

What are the age limits?
Mainly for school pupils and college students. EMA – 16-19 (students continuing full time education beyond Year 11). ALG – full time learners aged 19 and over who are studying for their first full level two or level three, which is the equivalent to 5 GCSEs or 2 A levels. Care To Learn – no lower limit and up to 20th birthday

National Insurance based?

Means tested?
Yes. EMA is based on parental income below £30,810 (usually using tax credit information). ALG based on claimants income (and partners income).

How long does it last?
Based on school or college terms. EMA/ALG – two to three years. Can also be stopped if the student fails to attend the course.

What is effect on other benefits?
None. Education Maintenance Allowance  and Care To Learn don’t count as income for means-tested benefit purposes for either the parent, or.the child if living independently. ALG – counts in part when means-tested benefits are calculated.

Is it taxable?

Increases for dependants?
Based on number and ages of children. None for EMA/ALG

Payable if in EU or other?
Yes, if conditions met at time of claim (where relevant).

Points to watch
Education maintenance allowance pays up to £30 per week on means-tested basis. EMA now paid to people who are Entry to Employment (E2E) and some other training courses. Looked-after children qualify for highest rate of EMA if they stay in or return to education after year 11. Free school meals now mandatory for people on Child Tax Credit who are not getting Working Tax Credit and who have an income below £16,040.

Care to Learn will fund up to £160 per child per week from August 2007 (£175 in London) for: childcare costs and additional travel expenses to and from the childcare.

You can view details of benefit amounts on the Community Care Inform website

The A-Z of Benefits 2009 was compiled by Gary Vaux and Community Care Inform


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