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Derek Twigg, MP for Halton

Working Hard for Widnes, Runcorn & Hale

Derek condemns Coalition's EMA U Turn

15 Nov 2010

Thousands of young people in Halton have been betrayed by the Coalition Government's decision to scrap Educational Maintenance Allowances, says Derek.

The news came as thousands of students marched on Westminster last week as part of a rally to demonstrate the strength of feeling against the plans for EMA and tuition fees amongst young people themselves.

Introduced by Labour in 2004, the scheme has been axed by Education Secretary Michael Gove following the Chancellor's Spending Review last month.  This was despite repeated promises by David Cameron and Nick Clegg before the election that the payments would be safe.

Over two thousand people in Halton depend on the payments to help with basics such as transport and books.  Now the payments are being axed from next year, many could find it hard to make ends meet and choose not to continue their education.

Indepdendent authorities had shown that the payments increased the number of students remaning in education who would not have done so without the financial support, as well as raising attainment amongst disadvantaged young people.

Derek remarked:

"Before the election, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said they would keep EMA payments - now they have betrayed young people by going back on their promises and scrapping them.

I'm appalled that David Cameron has gone back on his pre-election promise to protect the payments; I think he owes the young people of this country an explanation.

I want to see all young people staying on at school, going to college, getting an apprenticeship or doing some form of training whilst at work.  That's why Labour introduced EMA, and axing it now could mean thousands of young people failing to reach their full potential, affecting not only them but also their communities and future economic growth across the piece."

Derek also raised this issue on the floor of the House today with Minister John Hayes in Education Questions. Derek drew special attention to the disproportionate nature of the Coalition's cuts for Halton and similarly deprived areas, with Halton faring particularly badly with the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future projects.

Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and Labour's Shadow Education Secreatary, said:

"The EMA has given thousands of young people the chance to stay on and excel in education when they otherwise might have missed out.  From the PM downwards, commitments were given that EMA was safe which have now been broken - another betrayal of young people.

For those with the biggest challenges in life, EMA has been proven to boost attainment and help them succeed.  The loss of EMA coupled with up to £9000 a year fees means that students from poorer families will be left thinking that post-16 education isn't for them, meaning that thousands may fail to reach their full potential."

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