There are a certain number of days in the parliamentary calendar when the Opposition chooses the topic for debate, and so this week we used one of these slots to challenge the government and vote against their disgraceful plans to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance. This is the payment of up to £30 a week which can be claimed by 16 – 18 year-olds from moderate or low income families who stay on in education.
EMA is part of the Education budget which means that in Wales, it comes under the Welsh Assembly Government. In spite of the fact that the Assembly’s overall budget is being severely cut back by the Conservative-LibDem UK Government, the Labour-led Assembly is trying to manage its budget so that it can protect the Educational Maintenance Allowance. At the moment the plans are to keep the EMA in Wales, and I hope that we will manage to do that for as long as possible, so that students like those I met on Friday at Coleg Sir Gar will be able to continue their studies. We should be doing everything we can to support young people to continue their education and improve their job prospects. Young people should not be having to pay for the crisis caused by the bankers.