Government slashes support for students by 60%
The Government’s announcement on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) replacement scheme is “another attack on young people” says Wakefield MP Mary Creagh.
On 28th March Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the budget for EMA will amount to just £180m. This is 60% less than the current £560m EMA budget. The allowance pays up to £30 per week to 16-19 year old students in Further Education to help with study and travel costs.
Mary said “1500 students at Wakefield College get EMA to help with buying books, stationery and travel costs, and there are many more at schools across the district. In October I presented a petition to parliament signed by over 300 people which called on the government to rethink their attack on students from poorer backgrounds. This announcement is a partial victory for the Save the EMA campaign.
“EMA improved attendance, retention and achievement, and gives students from low income families support to help them get through college. 600,000 young people currently receive EMA, whilst under the government’s new scheme just 12,000 are guaranteed support. The Education Secretary says that people who started courses in 2010/11 will continue to get the EMA, but this only applies to people getting the full £30 per week. It is unclear whether students currently getting £20 or £10 per week will continue to receive support. With youth unemployment at a record high, the government should have kept their promise to retain the EMA.”
Research published by the National Union of Students (NUS) in 2010 showed that the EMA was making a real difference to young people in hardship. 55% of those in receipt of the EMA would not have been able to continue in further education without it. It has made, and continues to make, a significant impact on students' ability to meet the rising costs associated with their studies.
Before the election, Michael Gove and David Cameron promised to keep the payments but in Government they scrapped them at the earliest opportunity – with no warning and no consultation
“We are entirely in favour not only of the existence of the EMA but of the provisions in the Bill to secure an extension to it.”
Michael Gove, Hansard, 14 January 2008
“We’ve looked at Educational Maintenance Allowances... no we don’t have any plans to get rid of them.”
David Cameron, ‘Cameron Direct’, 6 January 2010
Michael Gove's decision to scrap EMA was followed by widespread protests by young people, college principals, head teachers across England.
BBC online, 18 January 2011, www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12216285
In March 2011, a group of economists, including former Cabinet Office and Bank of England figures, urged the government to reverse cuts to Education Maintenance Allowances. The economists said ministers had ignored "rigorous" evidence and warned that, at a time of "unacceptable" youth unemployment, "the last thing our country and those who govern us should be doing is removing or cutting support to that very age group".
BBC Online, 16 March 2011, www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12758386