§ Mr. Dobbin
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many education maintenance allowances have been awarded in each region to date. 
§ Mr. Wicks
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) on 2 March 2000,Official Report, columns 393–94W.
§ Mr. Wicks
We are encouraged by the success so far in the overall take up of EMAs, which are being piloted in 15 local education authority areas. EMAs have the potential to make a real difference to the life chances of young people and are an innovative way of helping those with financial difficulties to stay in education.471W
It is too early to identify the impact which EMAs will have on participation rates, although they have increased in all the pilot areas. Anecdotal information suggests that EMAs are helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds remain in education, when otherwise they may not have participated. A number of institutions have also reported that EMAs have had a positive effect on attendance, effort and discipline. Students recognise that if they want to have the allowance, they have a responsibility to attend regularly and adhere to their learning agreement.
There is a sophisticated evaluation programme in place for the duration of the pilot which will provide more information in due course.