The Education Select Committee’s report out today (covered by BBC here) responding to the Government’s abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has poured criticism on the Government’s “rushed” actions in ending the scheme and also rubbished the argument’s put forward by the government for scrapping the scheme. It goes further recommending that instead of abolishing the scheme the Government should of instead merely “slimmed-down” the scheme.
The Tory Chaired Select Committee’s report strongly criticized the Government for rushing through the abolition of EMA:
“we would have welcomed a more measured and public analysis by the Government before it reached its decision to abolish the EMA.”
And the Committee’s report also blew out of the water the Government’s “deadweight” argument for abolishing EMA:
“…economic “deadweight” costs are a feature of many interventions and do not necessarily mean that the policy is invalidated. The Government should have done more to acknowledge the combined impact on students’ participation, attainment and retention, particularly amongst disadvantaged sub-groups, before determining how to restructure financial support.”
It would be nice if the Government can quote a credible independent report that supports the abolition of EMA, but so far they have not done so and they constantly dodge the question whenever asked.
It also recommended that a slimmed down version of EMA would have been better than a move to a discretionary fund.
“The Committee is not persuaded that a strong enough case has been made for distributing £180 million in student support as discretionary bursaries rather than as a slimmed-down, more targeted entitlement. We believe that the Department should have conducted an earlier, more public assessment of the options for better targeting of student support.”
This is yet another major condemnation of Government policy on EMA, this time by a cross-party group of MPs, especially as the Select Committee is chaired by a Conservative MP.
It is a sad day to see a cross party committee of MPs, pretty much confirm what everyone seems to know in this country, except the Government and Michael Gove, that scrapping EMA was a truly bad decision.
There are now next to no one outside Government who supports scrapping EMA…
The Government should, while there is still time, reverse their decision on EMA or at least put off scrapping it for another year until they have something better in place.
Unfortunately, it is a good day to bury bad news for the Government…