I have shamelessly cribbed the following from my colleague, Caroline Page, as her briefing is very comprehensive and informative:
Remember – although EMA has been abolished, this doesn’t mean that post-16 students will be left high and dry (although some people want you to believe this, for purely political reasons). Instead the coalition are proposing a new allowance that will be targeted at those who need it most.
This is very good news for those who are worried that loss of EMA will prevent them attending school or college
The government’s intentions about EMA are therefore very different to Suffolk County Council’s disgraceful and undemocratic decision to scrap Suffolk’s Explore card tomorrow – right in the middle of the academic year. There was not even a figleaf of a consultation or ‘conversation.’ So please don’t stop signing the Save the Explore Card petition and pressing for this decision to be reversed. We are now only 1000 signatures short!
The government’s proposals are that:
- Everybody who started their course this academic year and is on the £30 per week rate will continue at the current rate to the end of the academic year and will receive payments of £20 per week in their second year.
- All students on EMA who started their course in the 2009/10 academic year will continue to receive the full rate.
- An additional £15 million will be set aside to provide bursaries of £1,200 for the most vulnerable students, for example those in care, with severe disabilities or single parents living on their own. This is more than the maximum available to students currently on EMA.
- Finally, schools, colleges and training providers will have £165 million put into a discretionary learner support fund each year which will be available for them to distribute to students facing financial need.
This is the equivalent of just over £800 for every young person who received free school meals at the age of 15.
Across the country students face very different costs and barriers to attending school or college. In some places – such as huge swathes of rural Suffolk – students have to travel a long distance to attend, or may find it hard to get transport. On the other hand, some courses involve prohibitively costly equipment. Under the new plans schools and colleges can decide individually exactly how to distribute the money available to support their students in need.
The government wants to have a short consultation on its plans. You have till the 20 May to respond to this consultation – which you can do online.
So, if you get or got EMA, if you are a parent, grandparent or friend of someone who had it, has it, or will need support in the future – or if you are just interested in social justice, please add your two pennorth. We can ensure properly targeted support for the workers of the future if we all contribute to the decision-making!