Following concern that the value of institutional bursaries might be reduced by corresponding decreases in social security benefits, the DfES has obtained Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agreement that they will disregard as income in calculation of benefits (eg income support and housing benefit) any HE institutional bursary, provided that certain conditions are met. The conditions are that the bursary holder has to be in receipt of the income assessed Special Support Grant (which has been designed specifically for full-time students eligible for DWP benefits), and that the disregard does not apply to any part of a bursary which is for living costs. In order to qualify for the disregard the student must have a written statement that their bursary is for course-related costs.
It is of course for institutions to decide their procedures around bursaries, but we would strongly support the DfES advice to institutions that they should make every effort to describe a bursary in terms which enable the DWP to disregard it as income. We expect that relevant organisations within the sector which cover the delivery of student services and finance, will want to carefully consider the most effective way of ensuring that students in receipt of benefit are best protected in receiving the full value of the support as it is intended.