Labour has called on the government to bring back the educational maintenance allowance.
Labour pointed to Department for Education figures that show 48,073 16- to 18-year-old students did not complete their studies in 2016-17.
EMA was scrapped by the coalition government in 2010. At the time, it was worth £30 per week for 16-19 students whose household income was under £20,817 per year. It cost the government £560 million a year.
Last year there were 132,208 disadvantaged 16- to 18-year-olds in education, but retention of these students was only 86.49 per cent compared with 92.63 per cent for non-disadvantaged youngsters.
Scrapping EMA 'a mistake'
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner accused the government of failing to help the most disadvantaged students to access and achieve in education.
She added: “The Tories were told at the time that scrapping EMA was a mistake and, eight years on, students are still suffering as a result.
“Through our National Education Service, Labour will bring back EMA and ensure that further education is available for the many, not the few."
Labour pledged in its 2017 general election manifesto to bring back the EMA if it were elected to form a government.
'Vital financial support'
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said the union fully supports Labour’s call to reinstate EMA.
“It is shocking that so many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not finishing their study programmes, but we know that money is a huge barrier to completing post-16 education.
“Before the coalition government scrapped it, the EMA was proven to be a success in giving young people the vital financial support they needed to get the qualifications that then helped them into the job market or further study. If the government is as serious about social mobility as it claims to be, it will reinstate EMA to ensure that all young people get the best possible start to their adult life,” he added.