Show me the money! 12,000 still waiting…
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has ended its contract with tech outsourcer Liberata following "unacceptable" delays to student grant payments.
An LSC statement said a change of supplier was decided to be the "best way forward" following several months of payment delays created by technical difficulties.
The Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) grants were designed to help 16- to 18-year-olds continue learning after leaving compulsory education. The payments of up to £30 per week cover costs of books, travel and other education essentials.
The change of supplier comes despite Liberata and the LSC having reduced the backlog in EMA payments from more than 200,000 to 12,000.
Capita will take over the running of the learner support services - including the EMA and Adult Learning Grant schemes - from 28 November.
Capita senior management will oversee staff and operations in processing centres in Coventry, Darlington and Manchester.
An LSC statement said: "We would like to reassure learners that payments will continue and that during the transfer period outstanding applications will continue to be processed."
The LSC said the remaining delayed applications should be cleared within the next few weeks and LSC chief executive Mark Haysom said the organisation is working to make the transition as smooth as possible.
But Capita chief executive Paul Pindar warned the move towards an "efficient and timely service" will take time while existing backlog is cleared.