Ken Livingstone has pledged that he will work to reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in London if he is elected Mayor this May. The National Union of Students has welcomed the announcement and has stated that the pledge sets an influential example to policy-makers nationwide.
The EMA allowed 16-19 year olds from eligible families to claim up to £30 a week in order to stay in education. In 2010, the government controversially scrapped the financial scheme, giving rise to public disagreement and massive student protests.
According to the NUS Vice President of Further Education, Toni Pierce, the decision to cut the EMA was strongly criticized not only by students and their families, but also by teachers, think tanks, businesses and politicians. She has said that reintroducing EMA in London “would be a huge step towards making sure that all young people in further education receive proper financial support to pay for the bare essentials associated with studying”.
Livingstone has received a lot of support for wanting to revise one of the most unpopular cuts made by the coalition. However, time will show if he is able to fulfil his mayoral promise.