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Parliamentary meeting against abolition of the education maintenance allowance

10 January 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Opponents of plans to axe the education maintenance allowance (EMA) are taking their message to the heart of government tomorrow. College and sixth-form students will be joined by staff and trade unions as they put the case to save the EMA to MPs in a special meeting in the House of Commons.

Save the EMA Studies show that the EMA, a weekly payment of between £10 and £30, is a key factor in improving participation in further education and colleges. Some of the most deprived areas of the UK will be the hardest hit if the government breaks its pre-election promise and scraps the EMA. In some areas of Birmingham, Leicester and the north west, as many as four-fifths of students receive the EMA.
 
The campaign is being run by the National Union of Students (NUS), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the University and College Union (UCU), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), NASUWT, UNISON, Unite, GMB and the Save EMA campaign. The meeting will take place in Committee Room 8 from 6-8pm.
 
A recent Education at a Glance report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that the UK has one of the worst participation rates for 15-19 year-olds in education.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Withdrawing the EMA will hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable young people in our society, as well as the colleges that are there to serve them. MPs need to understand that the EMA is a vital lifeline and can be the difference between young people staying on to study at college and further their life chances or being priced out.'
 
James Mills from the Save EMA campaign said: 'EMAs are there to help keep young people from the most impoverished families in our country in education and get the chances they need to break the cycle of poverty. Removing EMAs will not only be devastating for those young people from poor backgrounds but also their families'.
 
NASUWT general secretary, Chris Keates, said: 'Cutting the EMA will lead to another lost generation of young people. It will further devastate their life chances at a time when they are already bearing the brunt of unemployment.  The attack by the Coalition Government on the EMA is yet another example of its reckless disregard for the needs of the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.'
 
NUT general secretary, Christine Blower, said: 'Politicians claim to be in favour of improving social mobility. This meeting should help persuade the Government that axing the EMA runs counter to that. If Government is serious about enhancing the life chances of young people from the poorest backgrounds they need to think again.'
 
UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: 'The government must think again, as there is an alternative to these cuts. Jobs could be safeguarded and vital public services protected if the government clamped down on tax dodgers and forced the banks who caused the recession to pay a Robin Hood Tax. These savage cuts can only lead to a lost generation and bulging dole queues.'

ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said: 'Cutting the EMA will hit the most disadvantaged students hard and make it impossible for some to stay in education. That money is vital to pay for their basic costs - transport, food, books, internet access. And with the government not providing an alternative, young people wanting to gain further qualifications and improve their employment opportunities will be unable to do so. Their loss is society's loss.'

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