Cambridge EMA Protest

13 December 2010, 15:16 | Updated: 13 December 2010, 15:21

Students and union members in Cambridge have launched a petition to try and save the education maintenance allowance.

It's a payment made to poorer teenagers to try and keep them studying.

The government is planning to stop paying the allowance to young people.

This lunchtime, members of the National Union of Teachers, ATL, PCS and local students held a rally outside Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge in protest at the proposed cuts [pictured - above right].

In a statement, the group said: "This will have a massive impact on those families in  our communities who most need support to undertake education.

The EMA is a means-tested allowance of between £10 and £30, paid to 16- to 19-year-olds who stay on in education. In 2009/10, 635,000 learners received at least one EMA payment, and around 80 per cent of those the full £30.

The EMA helped support a huge increase in the number of young people from less well off backgrounds going onto college.

Students in areas with higher levels of social hardship are most dependent on the weekly financial support, and will therefore be hit hard by this cut.

In some areas of Birmingham, Leicester and the North West as many as four-fifths of students receive the EMA.

Thousands of students could now be forced to drop out of college which will in turn also put even more college jobs at risk.

This is a punitive, cruel, unfair and inadequately evidenced cut on the most vulnerable and those in the greatest need."