Should we end the Education Maintenance Allowance?

Mick Fletcher

This paper seeks to review the position of EMAs five years after the national roll-out took place.

The paper seeks first to place EMAs in context. They are part of a complex system of financial support for young people participating in education and training between the ages of 16 and 19; but they sit alongside more general arrangements for financial support in respect of all young people, principally – though not exclusively – Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.

They have been seen as an incentive rather than a welfare payment; receipt of an EMA does not affect other family benefits. To help understand the distinctive nature of EMAs and the options for change, the paper contrasts them with other support arrangements affecting 16–19 year olds and, where appropriate with support for HE students and for other adults. It also reviews the critique of EMAs being developed by some of the think tanks, and early indications of the government agenda.