Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Education Maintenance Allowance

Part of Opposition Day — [9th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 19th January 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys 4:31 pm, 19th January 2011

The hon. Gentleman's intervention demonstrates why he should have been in the Chamber earlier to listen to the debate- [ Interruption. ] He was not here when I made my intervention. The hon. Gentleman asks a question, however, so I am happy to explain. Rather than having an education maintenance allowance that is capped at £30 a week, it would be far better to have a discretionary learner support fund sited in the college that the pupil attends, where the principal and teachers best understand the needs of that pupil and can therefore address their particular barriers. I do not accept that household income has any meaningful correlation with the barriers to accessing further education that someone faces.

Mr Umunna pulls a face at me, so let me explain why. Blackpool and Fylde college is on Ashfield road in my constituency. Right at its front door is a large council estate where some of the most deprived residents in my constituency live. Do they have the same needs as someone in a slightly higher income bracket living two or three miles further up the road? They do not. Household income is not the indicator that must be examined when determining the barriers that must be overcome.

Barbara Keeley who, like me, is a passionate defender of young carers, was right to point out that there are groups of young people who face complex hurdles if they are to access further education. I do not accept that the education maintenance allowance is the magic wand that Labour Members seem to believe it is. I join other Government Members who have asked for further information about what form the discretionary learner support fund will take and how it will enable those with complex needs to access further education, because it is vital that they do so.

Labour Members cannot keep simply backing structures rather than people. It is horrifying that, in a modern democracy, we have a Labour party that still likes to think that it can keep people under its thumb, say, "You'll get £30 a week and no more; we're going to keep you where you are," and then expect people to be grateful. I want a further and higher education system in which all people can participate without being restricted by a barrier of £30 a week and no more. The discretionary learner support fund will enable an individual student's needs to be properly assessed and met, because we will focus on what the need really is, not on the mythical universal provision for which the Labour party hanker, albeit not because Labour Members wish to support their constituents any more. I have never before seen a political party further from the people whom it seeks to represent or that has so forgotten the people from whom it allegedly came.