Some of you may be aware that I have been a long supporter of the Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) and the Save EMA campaign, ever since I realised it could be under threat in Scotland when the SNP administration at Holyrood decided to cut the EMA budget by 20 per cent and axe the £10 and £20 payments.
I asked the Prime Minister in PMQs back in October following the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) why he broke his promise at a Cameron Direct event in January last year before the election to the Save EMA campaign that he supported the Education Maintenance Allowances.
I also secured an Adjournment Debate that week on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the week it was abolished in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). There are over 600,000 teenagers on EMA in England alone who will see this allowance withdrawn and 80% of those will be the poorest teenagers in our country from families with household income below £20,810.
Now, although I am a Scottish MP I still fi ght for young people’s rights as a UK MP, and Scotland is where EMA was fi rst attacked by the “Tartan-Tories” – the SNP. Last year they cut the EMA budget by 20% and axed the £10 and £20 payments. You could say I saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want EMA to suffer the same fate in England as it had in Scotland.
This is a scheme close to my heart because it is based on providing a platform to poor families, which means that economic barriers will no longer stand in their way to getting an education and getting on in life.
I have spoken on this subject before, when I secured an adjournment debate in the previous parliament on 2nd February this year and if you want a good example of the difference between the previous government and the new one today then it will be this policy. For example, the last time I spoke on this issue the then Minster, Iain Wright MP, committed the then Labour government to maintaining EMA in its current form up to 2011 and beyond.
Many of the young people who contacted me following that debate, sending me their support and thanks, will now feel disappointed by politics after having their fears and hopes raised and then crushed in a matter of months by this Tory-led Government.
But I hope they can continue their fight as I will continue my support!