The Labour Party has pledged to bring back student grants and the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) if it wins the next general election.
The move would be aimed at increasing the number of students from poorer backgrounds remaining in education, and would be funded through an increase in corporation tax of less than 1.5 per cent, the party has announced.
In 2010, the EMA was worth £30 per week for 16-19 students whose household income was under £20,817 per year.
The coalition government announced in October 2010 that the EMA would be scrapped.
Angela Rayner (pictured), Labour’s shadow education secretary, said the commitment to restoring both EMA and student maintenance grants showed that the party was committed to investing in young people.
“Bringing back EMA, which the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said improves both participation and attainment among 16-18 year olds, would benefit three quarters of a million students,” she said, adding: “Reversing the government's replacement of the student maintenance grant with loans would help over half a million students from low and middle income students to cover their living costs at university.”
But the proposal has been strongly criticised by the Conservative Party.
A spokesman said: “Without a proper explanation of how all Labour’s education proposals could be funded in full, they amount to little more than warm words. Yet again Labour are proving themselves too incompetent and chaotic to build a country that works for everyone.”
He added: “We have reformed the financial support for 16- to18-year-olds who are most in need, in contrast to the costly and poorly-targeted Education Maintenance Allowance. This approach has helped tackle the real barriers to participation, with record numbers in education or training post-16. Our planned changes to maintenance for those in higher education will also increase support for the poorest students while making sure student funding remains sustainable.”
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