Headlines: September 30th, 1999

Development work has started on a smartcard that will give discounts on a wide range of goods and services to16-18 year olds in learning,. The smartcard is one element of the strategy to encourage young people to stay in education post 16 and to acquire a worthwhile qualification by 19. It will effectively become a learning reward scheme.The use of smartcard technology for this purpose resulted from a recommendation by the Social Exclusion Unit. The idea has been developed by the Department for Education and Employment beyond the original proposal to give reduced cost travel and access to leisure facilities and other commercial discounts. It will supersede the current Learning Card which is issued to all young people in their final year of compulsory education and gives further learning and careers information. The smartcard will also be used for enrolment and attendance monitoring and for payment of educational maintenance allowance.

The smartcard is being developed in collaboration with commercial partners and discussions on lifestyle and leisure discounts are taking place with companies and other organisations.