Labour pledges to bring back education maintenance allowance

Labour will raise corporation tax to fund the re-introduction of the education maintenance allowance, the party has revealed today.

The payments, aimed at supporting pupils from lower-income households who stay in education between the ages of 16 and 19, were scrapped in England by the coalition government in 2010, although they carried on in Wales, Scotland and Norther Ireland.

Labour pledged to re-instate the payments last August, and Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, spoke passionately about the need for help for poorer pupils at the Labour Party conference last October.

Now the party has re-affirmed its commitment to the policy, including it in ‘talking points’ for campaigners on the doorstep, a move which indicates that it is likely to be included in its election manifesto ahead of the poll on June 8.

FE Week has asked Labour for clarification on if it thinks EMA should also be for 16-18 apprentices and part timers, with the response to be reported subsequently.

We have separately been calling for the introduction of FE maintenance grant loans for adult learners, through our #SaveOurAdultEducation campaign.

The hope is that this would make retraining possible for many more older people, by helping cover their living costs while studying, something that is already available to mature students in higher education.

Labour sources estimate that restoring EMA would cost £700 million in 2016/17, and plans to raise corporation tax by between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent in order to fund that, and the £1.7 billion cost of university maintenance grants.

The party claims that HMRC data shows that a 1 per cent increase in corporation tax would raise £2 billion.

However, it is not known whether the new system will be the same as the one which was scrapped in 2010, which offered means-tested weekly payments of £10 to £30 to pupils from households with incomes below £30,810.

When the payments were stopped in 2010, pupils received £30 a week if their household income was less than £20,817, £20 if it was between £20,818, and £25,521 and £10 per week if it was between £25,522 and £30,810.

Speaking at the party’s conference in Liverpool last year, Rayner said that as someone who had “relied on further education after I left school”, she was “proud that we have pledged to bring back educational maintenance allowance for students in FE”.

The EMA announcement is the latest in a string of education policies announced by the party since an announcement last Tuesday that a snap election will be held on June 8.

The Conservatives, Greens and Liberal Democrats are yet to make any big education announcements, but are expected to publish their manifestos in due course.

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