Gove announces ‘targeted’ EMA replacement

By staff

The government will replace the education maintenance allowance (EMA) with a “more targeted” £180 million student support scheme, the education secretary has said.

Some 12,000 of the poorest 16-to-19 year old pupils will get £1,200 a year to stay on at school, under the new plans.

Education secretary Michael Gove told the Commons that payments being made to poorer students will actually increase under the scheme, which would have access to £180 million funds – compared to £500 million for the original.

The EMA payment offered youths in households which earn less than £30,800 a year weekly payments of between £10 and £30 as long as they stay in education.

Under the new system poorer students will receive a payment, with the remaining money going to their schools to spend as they see fit.

Mr Gove described the scheme as a “progressive solution” to help those “most in need”.

“Our scheme will help ensure the cost of travel, food and equipment are properly met so no one is prevented from attending school through poverty,” Mr Gove told the Commons.

“We must ensure that no young person is unable to stay on in education for financial reasons.”

The proposals make accommodations for pupils who were told they would receive the EMA, with those who began courses in 2009-10 to continue to receive weekly payments.

Students who started in 2010-11 – and receive £30 a week – will continue to get at least £20 a week until the end of the next academic year.

Labour dismissed the proposals as lacking clarity and shadow education secretary Andy Burnham accused Mr Gove of presiding over a “total shambles”.

“This is a humiliating climb down,” he said. “Today under pressure he tries to put a positive gloss on a 60% cut.

“The lack of clarity in this new scheme could see young people walk away from education.”

Mr Burnham said school staff would be placed in an “invidious position” when forced to choose which of their pupils should receive the additional financial support.