Various student allowance and grant support questions: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. Whether a minimum national allowance for foster and kinship care has been introduced in Scotland?

2. What steps the Scottish Government has taken to ensure pupils from low-income families can take part in school trips?

3. What work has been conducted to introduce substantial reforms to student support?

4. Whether a special support payment for students on benefits who may lose out because they are entitled to student support has been introduced in Scotland? If not, is there a date for such a payment being introduced?

5. What work has been done to introduce a care experience grant in Scotland?


The answer to your questions are:

1. A minimum national allowance for foster and kinship care has not been introduced in Scotland. The Scottish Government continues to work closely with COSLA to find a way forward on the introduction of a Scottish Recommended Allowance for foster and kinship carers.

2. As part of the 2021 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government committed to ensuring that pupils from lower-income families can take part in school trips, providing support for children to go on curriculum-related trips and activities, and Primary 6/7 residentials, and giving secondary school pupils the right to go on at least one ‘optional’ trip during their time at school.

We fully recognise that learning outside the classroom is an essential part of education. Children should not miss out simply because their parents cannot afford the cost. As you may be aware, over the next four years we are increasing investment to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap. Funding will be equitably distributed to schools and local authorities throughout the country as part of the refreshed Schools Attainment Challenge (SAC). There will be a continued distribution of Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) and an equitable allocation to all 32 local authorities, Strategic Equity Fund (SEF), as part of an increased investment of £1 billion over the course of the Parliamentary term - representing a substantial increase on last term’s £750m funding. This approach enables us to best target resources to our most disadvantaged children and young people and schools where it can have the greatest impact.

PEF is allocated to schools on the basis of free school meal registrations of pupils in P1-S3, with headteachers and teachers able to make local decisions about which children and young people would benefit most from any particular intervention or approach, e.g. school trips, whilst keeping a clear focus on delivering equity and helping support their attainment through improving outcomes for learners impacted by poverty.

The refreshed programme and its associated funding will continue to empower headteachers and enable local authorities to work with them to implement approaches to support children and young people impacted by poverty in their local contexts. The funding should be focused on resources,
activities and approaches which will lead to improvements in literacy, numeracy and support health and wellbeing.

We are also tackling the cost of the school day which is supported by Attainment Scotland Funding. Many schools now ensure no cost is required for extra-curricular activities, residential trips, theatre experiences or outdoor learning experiences for all learners. This ensures children have access to the same opportunities.

3 & 4 In our Programme for Government, we committed to start work on the introduction of a range of substantial reforms to student support. These include:

  • Expanding our total student support package to reach the equivalent of the living wage over the next three years.
  • Introducing a special support payment so that students who are in receipt of benefits do not lose out because they are in receipt of, or entitled to, student support.
  • Halting the interest on student loans during maternity leave.
  • Undertaking a review into the funding provision for postgraduate students.
  • Improving the support available to estranged students with a package of support equivalent to the Living Wage.
  • Exploring whether a programme of guarantorship for estranged students, who are disproportionately vulnerable to exploitation within the housing market, can be created in partnership with colleges and universities.

So far we have:

  • Commenced a review of the future of summer student support.
  • Recently published the results from a small scale Student Summer Support Survey, which provides baseline evidence for the First 100 Days commitment to review summer support for students.
  • Delivered the first 100 days commitment to provide an additional £20 million in summer hardship support for the 2020/21 Academic Year (AY) via college and university Discretionary Funds. Established a new stakeholder group to inform work being undertaken to deliver the Student Support Programme for Government commitments.
  • In February this year, we announced a £350 loan uplift for 2022/23 AY for higher education students. This means that the most disadvantaged students can access £8,100 per year through bursary and loan and is the first step v in our commitment to provide student support in line with the living wage over the next three years.
  • Began a 2 year programme, giving students in receipt of the Care Experienced Bursary the option to receive their current funding in 12-monthly payments. We will use the findings of this to determine whether it should be extended to the undergraduate package from 2024/25 AY.
  • Recommenced work on the data gathering exercise on estranged students which is due to complete in August 2022. This data gathering exercise will inform any future changes to the support offered to estranged students, including meeting the manifesto commitment to offer a package of support equivalent to the living wage.
  • Commenced work to introduce a special support payment so that students on benefits do not lose out because they are in receipt of, or entitled to, student support. We are committed to delivering this within this parliamentary term.

5. The Promise, published in February 2020, set out the direction that the children’s care system in Scotland needs to take to ensure that all young people with experience of care grow up loved, safe, and respected and with robust scaffolding’ of support in place when it is needed. The 2021 SNP Manifesto included a commitment to invest £10 million to introduce a Care Leaver Grant. There was a subsequent commitment (and a change of name to Care Experience Grant) in the Scottish Government Programme for Government (PfG) 2021-22.

The Care Experience Grant will be introduced to provide young people with care experience additional financial support and security as they transition out of care. This is a £200 payment that will be paid on an annual basis for up to 10 years. We have estimated that it will benefit up to 50,000 young people aged 16-25 per year who may not have access to the same family support networks as many of their non-care experienced peers.

Officials are working at pace with stakeholders and potential partners to identity feasible delivery options for the payment. In consideration of timescales associated with this commitment, we will balance ambition and pace with the need to deliver the payment effectively and that it meets the needs of individuals with care experience. The Scottish Government will make an announcement in due course on how it intends to progress the delivery of the Care Experience Grant.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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