Ben Howlett is the National Chairman of Conservative Future
This week faces a very difficult decision by the Government and MPs on Educational Maintenance Allowances. In an ideal world we would not have to make spending cuts. However, due to the economic incompetence by Labour we unfortunately do not have a pot of money saved for that rainy day.
As with public sector pay freezes, increases in bankers levies, and decreases in public spending, the EMA must also be evaluated against other forms of support. You cannot say to a teacher your pay is frozen this
year when the EMA is being paid to almost half of young people in full-time education. The reason behind this lies in fairness. It is not fair when 9 out of 10 people who receive the EMA would stay in education
anyway without the EMA.
We must think about that 1 in 10 I mention who would not be able to participate without the grant. The Government will never forget those from poorer backgrounds who rely on some kind of support. Therefore the plans the Government are pursuing will ensure that there is a more targeted approach to student support. This will not be delivered in Labour's top down bureaucratic way, but bottom up, led by the institution itself. If a poorer student needs support the Government is empowering local education institutions to assess who requires additional support.
The proposals made by the Government are tough, but given the economic mess Labour left us with, these changes are fair and ensure that the poorest in society are encouraged still to continue their education.