EMA abolished despite pressure from opposition MPs and more student protest

Parliament has voted to abolish the Education Maintenance Allowance, meaning that over 14, 000 college students in east and south east London will lose out on weekly grants of between £10 and £30.

The decision came on Wednesday night as opposition MPs failed to reverse coalition government plans to scrap the scheme.

As the crucial vote took place in the commons, hundreds of students gathered in protest against the EMA being scrapped.

They gathered at 4pm at Picadilly Circus, some waving banners that read ‘Tax the Rich, Save the Poor.’ Others chanted a slogan no synonymous with the student anti-cuts movement: ‘no ifs, no buts, no education cuts!’

The demonstration moved to Parliament Square an hour later. A line of police walked ahead of the noisy protestors and also gave out leaflets about what to do if any disruption broke out.

The coalition government says that the EMA is wasteful and costs over £650 million a year, with administration costs amounting to £36 million.

But supporters and recipients of the allowance say that the EMA stops thousands of students from dropping out of their studies.

East Londoners on the march talked to ELL about why the EMA was so important to them.

Priscilla Stain, 18, said: “I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t got the EMA this year. It pays my lunch and my travel. My mum didn’t give me any money this year and she is still in a really bad financial situation, so without it I wouldn’t be able to be in education.”

William Neal, 17, said: “People such as myself who are not as well off as others should have as much an equal start in life as anyone else.”
Students who are receiving EMA will continue to do so but it will be cut starting with the next academic year.

Many students based in boroughs along the east London line were in receipt of the EMA. They numbered 3, 282 in Lewisham, 3, 967 in Croydon, 3, 123 in Hackney and 3, 671 in Tower Hamlets.

The EMA was supporting students whose parents’ earnings fell below £30,800 a year.

One Response

  1. emily moore January 20, 2011

Leave a Reply