Family & Education

EMA scrapped: Your stories

The government plans to axe the education maintenance allowance (EMA) in England next year. It wants to replace the up to £30 a week payments to low-income 16-19 year olds with a "more targeted" scheme. People affected by the decision have been getting in touch with the BBC. Here is a selection of their views:

Joseph Meaden, 18, university student in Glasgow

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Image caption Joseph says EMA allowed him to focus on his studies

"I greatly benefited from EMA throughout my time at sixth form in Brighton. It was a great help and meant I did not need to get a job and could focus on my studies.

I got much better results than I was expecting at the beginning of the course. I managed to achieve AAA* in my A-levels and I doubt I would have been able to have achieved if I did not receive EMA.

The grant gave me independence - it meant I didn't have to rely on my mum who is a single parent.

My niece is 14 and plans to go to college and would have been eligible for EMA. Now that it will be scrapped I expect she will have to get a job and this may hinder her academic performance. She will also face the high fees that will be in place by then.

The coalition government is making it even more difficult for poorer families to get by and their policies are not progressive. I dread to think what else they may have up their sleeves."

Steve McNair-Wilson, 64, retired teacher, Clacton-on-Sea

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Image caption Steve says EMA has given students a degree of independence

"EMA has been brilliant. It has given so many students a degree of independence and a sense of responsibility that has been missing from so many sixth form establishments.

Students have had to fulfil their educational responsibility, and for doing so they are richly rewarded, with no interference from other sources.

EMA rewards this attitude and encourages this. Money saved by cutting this is so insignificant, but the goodwill in maintaining it is incalculable.

As a teacher all the way through the Thatcher years I am sickened to see the Lib Dems putting themselves behind such divisive moves.

One wonders how many students could be supported if the Trident Submarine operations were suspended.

Teaching in Clacton, which is not a wealthy area, I have seen many pupils benefit from the EMA.

I retired three years ago. I'm on a limited income so my family has also benefited hugely from the EMA. My daughter, who is now in university, received EMA in her final years of school. My son is in his final year and also gets EMA."

Charlotte Clarke, 48, translator, Harrogate

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Image caption Charlotte thinks the benefit should be targeted at those who need it most

"I have thought for a long time that EMA should be scrapped. It is extremely inefficient.

The way household income is calculated ignores maintenance payments from ex-spouses. I know this from my own experience as someone who has re-married.

There were pupils at my children's private school receiving the full EMA because their mothers don't work but they still had enormous maintenance from their fathers. This allowed private school fees and very expensive holidays to be paid whilst still claiming the benefit.

My step-son receives it but doesn't really need it - which he admits himself. He's used the money to save up for a holiday.

There are doubtless many kids who make proper use of it, but that is what the new targeted fund seems to be intended for.

The current system is a waste of taxpayers' money."

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