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Education Maintenance Allowance

Volume 523: debated on Monday 7 February 2011

16. What estimate he has made of the savings to accrue from terminating education maintenance allowance payments in September 2011 for students who are already part of the way through a two-year programme of study. (38233)

The cost of continuing to pay EMA from September 2011 for a further year to all students currently receiving it is estimated at £300 million, excluding the costs of administration.

York college tells me that, last September, on the Secretary of State’s watch, 650 students started two-year courses in the expectation of getting an education maintenance allowance for two years. To continue it would cost less than £500,000. Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider?

I am very grateful for the moderate and considered way in which the hon. Gentleman puts his point—I know how passionate he is about further education. [Interruption.]

Order. Hon. Gentlemen should not yell from a sedentary position. I want to hear the Secretary of State’s answer, and I hope that the House does, too.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is ironic that we were just discussing poor behaviour and people in class disrupting those who want to learn. I am keen to work with the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley), and college principals in particular, to ensure that our new, enhanced learner support fund can help all those vulnerable young people who need support to stay in education and learning.

When the Secretary of State assesses the size of the discretionary learner support to be made available to each college, will he consider at least making one of the criteria the number of second-year students who currently receive EMA, to assist colleges and students in the transition to the new system?