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EMA replacement will not meet young people's needs

17 June 2011

As new scheme is rolled out, UCU says government's EMA mess will increase benefits costs.

As the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) today began notifying schools and colleges of the allocations they will receive under the replacement for the education maintenance allowance (EMA), UCU said young people would miss out because £390m is being cut from supporting poorer students.
Last year over 600,000 students received the EMA, with 80% (those whose household income is less than £20,800) receiving the full £30 weekly allowance.  From September, only 12,000 new students who are either disabled, in care or from families on income support will be guaranteed funding. Others will be forced to apply to a discretionary fund managed by individual colleges.
Just last week, Thomas Spielhofer, the former research manager at the National Foundation for Educational Research, whose report the government frequently cited to call the EMA a 'deadweight cost', told MPs that ministers had 'misinterpreted' key findings. More information on that story can be found here: Ministers accused of cherry-picking research in order to scrap the EMA
A UCU survey of EMA recipients, published in January, revealed that 70% would drop out of college if the financial aid was removed, and the union said that despite promises of 'targeted support' many could still be faced with that choice. More information on that story can be found here.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government has made a complete mess of the EMA ever since it started cherry-picking research to drive through an ideological plan to cut funding for the poorest teenagers.
'The EMA, as a recent study carried out by UCU proved, makes a huge difference in keeping young people in education. This new scheme simply does not offer the same levels of financial support that young people need to stay on at college. Ignorance is always more expensive than education and these plans will also leave the state with a higher benefit payments bill.'
Last updated: 11 December 2015