From education to employment

Labour Party calls for reintroduction of educational maintenance allowance (EMA) – Sector Response


“Bring back EMA” demands Labour as more than 17,000 disadvantaged young people fail to complete their studies.

Labour has called on the Government to reintroduce EMA for 16 – 18 year olds in further education.

Labour analysis of Department for Education statistics shows that 17,864 disadvantaged 16 to 18 year olds failed to complete their main study programme in 2017.

Last year there were 132,208 disadvantaged young people in education, but retention of these students was only 86.49 per cent; this is well below 92.63 per cent for non-disadvantaged young people in education.

Since the Government’s decision to scrap EMA in 2010 these disadvantaged students, who are likely to have received the full £30 a week, missed out on up to £1,080 worth of support last year.

Education Maintenance Allowance was proven to support retention in education.

The Government replaced EMA with the 16–19 bursary scheme, funding for which is less than one-third of the value of previous spending on the EMA, which stood at £550 million in 2010–11.

Figures from the Department for Education show that proportion of 16-year-olds that are NEET has risen for the first time since the end of 2011.

Commenting on the Labour Party’s call for the Government to reintroduce the educational maintenance allowance for disadvantaged 16- to 18-year-olds in further education,

angela rayner thumbnailAngela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“These figures show that the Government is failing to help the most disadvantaged students to access and achieve in education.

“The Tories were told at the time that scrapping EMA was a mistake and eight years on students are still suffering as a result.

“Through our National Education Service Labour will bring back EMA and ensure that further education is available for the many, not the few”.

Stephen Evans LW 100x100Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute said:

“Our recently-launched Youth Commission found that 40,000 16-17 year olds in England are not in education, employment and training. But the challenge doesn’t just stop there. In total, around 700,000 16-24 year olds are NEET. This risks limiting their life chances and storing up long-term problems for both them and our society and economy. 

“It is imperative to engage more young people in education, training and employment. Doing so requires an understanding of all the barriers that prevent this today. Financial barriers will be important to some, but we also need to look at how public services work together and the learning options young people face. Our Youth Commission will be looking at all of this over the next year and putting forward recommendations for change.”

Simon Ashworth, Chief Policy Officer, AELP said:

“Financial support for apprentices and young people on traineeships is an important issue and AELP has previously supported calls made by the NUS in this regard.

“EMA was a valuable support for young people, often from very disadvantaged backgrounds, on the old Entry to Employment programme and therefore we hope that Labour will consider that any return of EMA should apply to work based learning programmes too.”

Stephen Lambert100x100Stephen Lambert, Director, Education4Democracy CIC, said:

“As an educational body we’re delighted that the Labour Party have committed themselves to re-introducing EMAS for disadvantaged students and those from ‘hard to reach’ neighbourhoods.

“The EMA was first piloted way back in 1999 in Co Durham and proved a huge success in boosting participation rates amongst post-16 learners from low income households. Student’s were eligible for £30 a week payment which made a huge difference to paying for travel, books and equipment.

“The EMA is a sure way of challenging social exclusion, promoting opportunity for all and helping to facilitate social mobility and will be warmly welcomed by many.”

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The National Education Union fully supports Labour’s call to reinstate the education maintenance allowance (EMA). It is shocking that so many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not finishing their study programmes, but we know that money is a huge barrier to completing post-16 education.

“Before the Coalition Government scrapped it, the EMA was proven to be a success in giving young people the vital financial support they needed to get the qualifications that then helped them into the job market or further study.

“If the Government is as serious about social mobility as it claims to be, it will reinstate EMA to ensure that all young people get the best possible start to their adult life.”

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