We’re currently working on a 6-week assessment timescale due to volume of applications but have noted that a high number are being received with little or no supporting evidence, including birth certificates or passports. The application form has been simplified this year and if your parents/carers receive Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, you may not have to supply proof of income. However all applications must be accompanied by your birth certificate or passport, even if you received EMA in a previous session.
To reduce further delay to your application please check you have provided this before submission.
We’re planning to take a break in blog posts over the summer so a quick update now:
- Applications for the 16/17 session are now available and should be submitted to Callendar Square One Stop Shop as detailed on the forms and guidance. Processing timescales may vary but are currently around 6 weeks. Please wait for further correspondence if you applied within this timescale.
- HMRC are again contacting a number of parents asking for proof of their child’s attendance at school over a specified period. Please note that we cannot not divulge information regarding EMA payments to a parent as it breaches Data Protection rules. Your school may however be able to provide a letter of confirmation of enrolment, or your parent should check what other evidence can be submitted instead.
- Activity Agreement applicants who may have started their EMA fairly recently will still need to reapply in the 2016/17 session to continue payments. If you’ve not already done so, please arrange to get a new application form and submit asap.
- SQA results will be out over the summer as you’re probably already well aware! Further guidance can be found from your school or the SQA website.
We’d like to wish you all the best for a happy, safe summer and good luck for SQA results where applicable. See you after the holidays!
The next timetabled payment run for attendance in weeks ended 17th & 24th June is complete and due to reach accounts on Friday 1st July. This will be the last run of the 15/16 session for young people attending school. Those undertaking an Activity Agreement who continue to attend their programme as agreed over the summer will be paid fortnightly in arrears as normal.
There will be one final catch-up run made once schools return for backdated payments authorised by schools for the last weeks of this term. Thereafter the 15/16 session will close completely and it will not be possible to claim any outstanding amounts.
Assessment team have advised that applications for 2016/17 Free School Meals (and Clothing Grants where applicable) are at peak volume and may now take up to 6 weeks to process. If your parent/carer applied more than 6 weeks ago and hasn’t heard from the team, they can be contacted on 01324 503850. Otherwise, please wait for contact; these are being worked on daily.
Applications and guidance notes can now be picked up from schools and main One Stop Shops or printed/requested from our EMA page on the Falkirk Council website. The first deadline for submission is not until 30th September so it may be beneficial to wait for any outstanding supporting evidence before returning as this will speed up the assessment time. Please also remember that as previously posted, if your parent/carers are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit, the supporting evidence you need to send should reduce. Please check the guidance notes for further information.
Following an earlier query today, a quick reminder again to all that EMA bonuses, which used to be paid to eligible applicants in Jan and June of each session, have not been part of the EMA scheme for many years. If you see reference to this on any Falkirk Council publicity or website, please let us know when and where so we can ensure it’s removed.
Unfortunately, we’ve less control over incorrect or historic information on external websites so please bear this in mind if searching online.
The final payment for this 15/16 EMA session will be released next week. There will be no payment due for attendance in week ended 1st July.
A few things to update on today:
Application forms and guidance notes are now with our printers and should be distributed towards the end of this month. Please note that the layout of and details within these have changed, including the address to which completed forms should be addressed. Please check carefully before posting.
Please also note that we’re changing the way EMA applications are assessed this year. If your parents/carers are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, the amount of hard-copy evidence you need to send us should reduce. You can find more information on this in the application form and guidance.
When your application form is received, it and the evidence you send, will be scanned and securely held in electronic format. This will mean that if there’s a query or error on the form (eg you forget to sign it), we’ll print the page and send it back with a letter explaining what you need to do.
If you were previously in receipt of EMA and are age-eligible to return to school/Activity Agreements, you will be posted a form in due course. We’re awaiting details of recent school leavers to allow us to update our records and will then arrange for the mailing when these and the forms are also available.
If you have the information needed, please don’t delay sending your application form. The volume of applications is extremely high August to October and these will take longer to progress during this time.
The next payment run is complete and due to reach accounts on Friday 3 June, this includes payment for attendance in weeks ended 20 May & 27 May. As before, if you have a query about your payments please contact your school/activity agreement worker in the first instance.
Guidance for the new 16/17 EMA session is still awaited from Scottish Government which will then allow us to finalise our draft application forms and other documentation for this session. Although every effort will be made to still have applications available in June, this is dependent on Scottish Government guidance being released to us very soon. Further updates on timescales will be made available when we know more.
We are making it easier to apply for Free School Meals and Clothing Grants. If you were eligible for Free School Meals in the 2015/16 school year, we will be contacting your parent/carers from 16th May 2016 to check if they want to apply again for next year. If they haven’t heard from us by 13th June please have them contact the assessment team on 01324 503850. Remember, they need to apply each year.
If your parent/carer is applying for the first time, they can download an application form from the Falkirk Council website from next week or pick one up from most One Stop Shops.
Please return all application forms as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Meals can only be provided from the date the application is approved and entitlement cannot be back dated. Clothing grants are not payable for young people aged 16 or over on or before 30th September 2016 so if this applies to you, you should apply for EMA in your own name – applications for 2016/17 EMA should be available in June.
Parent/carers can get help to fill out their form from any of the offices listed on the application form. General advice is also available by calling 01324 590599.