‘Don’t take our lifeline’

STUDENTS in Worksop are fearing for their futures after the Government announced plans to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

“Don’t take away our lifeline” – was the message from one student who relies on the £30 she receives each week.

Far left, student Maddison Benton, 17, shares her opinions on the EMA cuts.  (w110126-9b).

Far left, student Maddison Benton, 17, shares her opinions on the EMA cuts. (w110126-9b).

Around 600 students, aged 16 to 18, are set to lose out on their EMA payments in the next academic year under government plans.

At North Notts College around 600 students, more than half of its full-time students, claim EMA.

This week students spoke out about the cuts and how the loss of EMA will affect them, with some saying they may be forced to give up their course.

“I don’t know if I am going to be able to carry on with my course next year,” said Richard Hill, 18, who is studying Creative Media. “I’m struggling to find work. There are hardly any part-time jobs out there.”

Students can claim between £10 and £30 per week depending on the income of their household. Around 8,000 young people claim EMA in Notts.

Maddison Benton, 17, travels from North Leverton to college in Worksop three times a week for the media course.

She spends around £10 paying for travel on the college minibus and the remainder on equipment for her course and food while at college.

“I don’t know what I am going to do. I rely on the money for college,” she said.

“My mum, who is a single mother, is struggling financially and has my two brothers to look after.”

“I need this money. If I have any left over at the end of the week then I give it to my mum.”

“It’s often difficult in more rural areas like where I’m from to get to college. I can’t catch a normal bus because I would be late.”

“Often when students leave school they can’t drive so that makes it even more difficult for them to get to college.”

She was open to the idea of getting a part-time job, adding: “It’s quite difficult for us to get part-time jobs. Even people that are more qualified are finding it difficult to find jobs so what chance do we have?”

Her message to the government was: “Don’t mess this up for us. Don’t take away our only lifeline.”

Kelly Shepherd, 16, said she will have to increase her hours at Worksop Golf Club where she works part-time, to make up for losing £30 a week.

“I can walk to college so getting here won’t be a problem, but I use the money to give to my mum,” she said.

“It also helps to pay for food while I’m at college.”

Students on the Creative Media course have made a short film about the cuts and how young people can help petition against it, which was broadcast in college.

A Department for Education spokesman said the EMA programme is hugely expensive, costing over £560million a year, with administration costs amounting to £36million.

He added that pilot research found that almost 90 per cent of young people receiving the EMA belived they would have participated in the course they were doing if they had not received it.”