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Livingstone vows to reinstate EMA

Ken Livingstone has pledged to reinstate education maintenance allowance (EMA) payments for students across the capital if he is re-elected London mayor this May.

Around 85,000 16- to 19-year-olds in London were eligible for the weekly allowance of up to £30 per week.

Livingstone said he would raise the cash to fund the scheme by redirecting existing funds from colleges, universities and local authorities.

He said: "I have been deeply struck by the plight of thousands of students I have met at colleges right across the capital, who have had the lifeline that EMA offered snatched away from them by the Conservative party, while the part-time Tory Mayor stood by."

Toni Pearce, further education vice-president of the National Union of Students, said EMA had provided a vital source of support for many students across the country.

"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 and would set a powerful example to national policy-makers," she said.

James Mills, spokesman for the Save EMA campaign, added: "This is great news for tens of thousands of the poorest teenagers in London; it means that they can once again take education as far as their ability lets them and not their ability to pay".

He called on London mayor Boris Johnson to "put his money where his mouth is" and stand up for "London’s poorest teenagers".

"Boris has defended a minority of the wealthiest bankers on a regular basis, and only once has spoken out [against scrapping] EMA, and then only briefly," Mills said. "It's time Boris shows he is the mayor of London not the mayor of bankers."

He went on: "This will not only set down a marker for other mayoral contests across the country, but has shown it is not about money, but about priorities when it comes to whether teenagers should have EMA payments."

EMA payments were scrapped by the government in January 2011, despite mass student protests.

A Barnardo's report last month found that the bursary fund brought in by the government to replace the education EMA is failing disadvantaged teenagers.

This article has been taken from www.cypnow.co.uk – http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1072409/livingstone-vows-reinstate-ema