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 5:10 pm on 19th January 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon 5:10 pm, 19th January 2011

That is exactly right. In fact, Mr Brown, when he was Prime Minister, hoped to pay for EMA by reducing the debt on the young people of this country.

Transport is an important issue that was raised with me by Martin Penny from Stratford-upon-Avon college and has been aired by Members on both sides of the House. As my hon. Friend Mr Jones said, it is an issue not only for rural constituencies but for urban areas too. I am pleased that the Secretary of State has made some encouraging remarks about opening up the discretionary fund to allow such colleges as Stratford-upon-Avon college-which are best placed to judge because they are closest to students and their families-to target some of that money on those who most need it.

In the spending review, the Government committed to refocus the support, because all the data show that the £560 million spent on EMA every year was not well targeted. I am pleased that the Secretary of State confirmed in his opening remarks that the Government will target the money towards those with special educational needs. I was a governor of a special educational needs school that was shut down by the previous Government and I know how important it would be to those families if the money was targeted in that way.

I ran a research company for 11 years, and I am passionate about evidence-based strategy. The National Foundation for Educational Research report commissioned by the previous Government, which we have heard about today, found that almost 90% of young people who receive EMA would have completed their education or training course if they had not received it. In an interview, the shadow Secretary of State admitted that some of the money went towards students buying drinks and partying. He therefore probably agrees with me that the money is not well targeted. I see him leaning forward, and am happy for him to intervene.