Nearly 3,300 Southwark young people receive the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The EMA goes to young people from low income families who are staying on at school after the age of 16 and which gives them up to £30 per week. This money helps them with the cost of travel, books etc and means that they can have more time to study as there is less need for them to get a part-time job. Before the election both the Liberal Democrats and the Tories promised they would keep the EMA. But now they are abolishing it. Southwark young people who are already getting the EMA will keep it till July 2011. But as from 1st January 2011 no young person who is not already on EMA will be able to apply for it.
I am joining with Tessa Jowell MP to ask the Tory/Lib Dem Government to think again about this. This is money well spent on opportunities for young people. If they don't turn up to classes they don't get the money so it only goes to those young people who are really keen to make a go of their education. This is important for fairness. No young person should struggle to continue their studies because their parents cannot help them out financially. It is important that there should be opportunities for all young people. But it is important for our economy too which depends on us having a skilled workforce and using the talents of all our people.
Tessa Jowell and I are calling on Simon Hughes MP - as a Southwark MP - to back up the 3,300 Southwark young people and call for the EMA to be continued. When he was seeking election he promised to keep the EMA. He must keep that promise now.