Good news: we have got Suffolk County Council to accept the Save the Explore Card petition and agree to debate the Explore card cut again at their annual meeting starting at 2pm on 26 May at Endeavour House in Ipswich.
• THIS IS A PUBLIC MEETING. Any member of the public can attend. This means YOU.
This news doesn’t mean the card has been saved but it does give us another chance to tell the council how badly this cut is affecting so many young people in Suffolk.
When people stand up and make a fuss there is a much better chance of them listening.
If they listen, there is a chance they may vote to restore the card.
Shortly before the meeting, the petition will be presented officially to the Suffolk County Cabinet members responsible.
• Can YOU be there too? The more people who are there in person, the more it will show what the impact has been
In the meantime, can you please email statements, saying simply how the cut is affecting you and your family. Basically it is harder for councillors to ignore a statement saying “I cannot do … (whatever) …. because of you cutting the Explore card.”
If you give the name of the town you live in, we can pass on your comment to your own councillor, before they vote!”
There is a facebook link to this event:
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!