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MP’s South Lakes Youth Forum helps shape new EMA policy

March 29, 2011 1:45 PM

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has welcomed yesterday's government announcement on the replacement Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) policy, which was shaped by South Lakeland students at Tim's recent Youth Forum.

In February this year, Tim held a Youth Forum for 19 students from across the South Lakes, who were encouraged to draw up an alternative EMA policy as part of the event. Their suggestions were presented by Tim to Simon Hughes, the senior government advisor on the substitute for EMA.

The range of suggestions made at the Youth Forum included giving local schools and colleges the authority to allocate the EMA to those students who need the support, as well as suggesting that the money be accurately targeted at those who need it most. Simon Hughes outlined both of these proposals in today's announcement, suggesting local students influenced this national policy.

The local students also commented on the need to focus EMA on travel, food and equipment. In response to this, Simon Hughes announced that there will be a new, post-16 bursary scheme, which will cover the costs of travel, food and equipment for poorer students.

Yesterday's announcement has been welcomed by Tim, with £180 million being targeted at students from low-income backgrounds and students who currently receive EMA will still receive their payments until they finish at their college or school. Furthermore, some 12,000 pupils will receive an annual bursary of £1,200, including those in care, care leavers, those from families on income support, and those who have severe disabilities. This is more annually than they received under EMA.

Commenting today, Tim said; "I'm extremely pleased that the students of South Lakeland have had an input in yesterday's EMA announcement. I held my Youth Forum for that specific reason; so that local students can have their say in government policies and this is exactly what has happened. Simon was really keen to hear their views and I'm thrilled that he has listened to their thoughts and ideas and implemented them in the replacement EMA initiative."