Educational Maintenance Allowance 'could be revived'

National Union of Students has campaigned for the reinstatement of the scheme

October 28, 2013

Labour could bring back the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for 16- to 18-year-olds if the party returns to power, according to the shadow education minister.

The allowance was scrapped in 2011 by the coalition government, which argued that the vast majority of students who received it would have attended further education anyway.

The National Union of Students campaigned against its abolition, arguing that it allowed students from poorer families to afford travel and study materials and meant they had to spend less time working to fund their studies.

Tristram Hunt, the new Labour shadow education minister, made the comments in an interview in the Daily Mirror, in which he said the EMA could be funded by stripping wealthy pensioners of their winter fuel allowance.

“A bit of rebalancing towards young people wouldn’t go amiss,” he said.

The EMA was paid to nearly half of 16- to 18-year-olds in full-time education, with 80 per cent receiving the maximum of £30 per week.

It cost the government £560 million a year in England to run, according to the Department for Education.

Last year, a report by the government’s social mobility tsar, Alan Milburn, suggested that universities resurrect a form of the EMA by using money set aside for bursaries and tuition-fee waivers to support teenagers in further education instead.

“The scheme would be more effective in encouraging young people to apply to university than bursaries and fee waivers, which had little effect on potential applicants, partly because each university has a different financial support package,” Mr Milburn said at the time.

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