What will be replacing EMA?

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 yearThere 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!

4 thoughts on “What will be replacing EMA?”

  1. We are a hard working family I might add all my family work. We are sorry to see that you will be abolishing EMA after David Cameron gave his word its safe. My wife and me are not on a great wage and with all prices increasing thing are only going to get worst. This money would help my girl get to school as we live over 4 miles away from where she goes to school. I am receiving tax credits as my young daughter is still at school and planning to stay on as she would like to become a school teacher.

    1. Please don’t blame the postman. This is not a Suffolk County Council issue, so I’m not quite sure who you mean by ‘you’.

      Nationally, this government always intended to abolish the rather indiscriminate EMA – but replace it with something targeted at those who actually needed it. David Cameron did not say EMA was ‘safe’ at all – however the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative’s coalition partners, vowed to protect those who were in need – and, thanks to them, this is what is proposed!

      Please re-read this post and you will see that it is likely you will be OK.

      If you have comments and criticisms it would be best to use the clickable link in the post and make them directly to the government consultation.

      f you live in Suffolk, though, please PLEASE consider signing the EXPLORE card petition (link in the above post too) which is the real local cut aimed indiscriminately and in the middle of the school year at all post-16 year olds. Again, this is not my fault, or those of my party – who constitute Suffolk’s official opposition. (As you will see my signature is first on the petition.) However it needs the support of many people in Suffolk to have a chance of overturning it!

  2. I am pleased to see EMA hasn’t died although there is less money. My main worry concerns the proposal for how the funding is handed out in future which seems to see Headteachers deciding who should get it. No method is perfect I know but I do wonder if this is sensible. It occurs to me this might cause conflict between families and the school and allegations of favoritism. The quality of the decision making will depend on the Headteacher so it is likely to appear arbitrary. I will respond to the consultation with these points.

    1. You have a good point here, James. However – particularly in rural schools and colleges – you have often huge catchment areas, where transport provision and cost may well be variable. It would be nice if, for example, those who have larger travelling costs could be targeted, rather than those who might have only a short walk. Such decision making need neither be arbitrary, nor lead anyone to allegations of favouritism.

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