Monday, 6 December 2010

Even if a lot of EMA is wasted, won’t it still affect a lot of kids if we abolish it?

In my previous two posts (here and here), I spend a long time showing exactly how and why so much EMA money is wasted – on kids who would be at school studying just as hard without it, and on kids who are only there to get the money and don’t get very good grades, or any grades, at the end of their course.

However, that does still leave a small number of kids who do benefit from EMA. So if we abolish it, won’t it still affect those kids?

That’s true, so it is fortunate the government are not completely abolishing financial support for further education. Whilst they have abolished EMA, they are planning to increase the ‘enhanced discretionary learner support fund’, which currently stands at 26million. Based on the calculations in my previous post, how big should this fund be? Well,my back of the envelope estimate in this post was that about 2-3 percent of kids really need and deserve it.  However, that’s a back of the envelope guess and you’d want to allow a bit of flexibility. Although, as I have shown, the number of kids who would drop out without it is not necessarily the figure we would want to use, let’s take them into account anyway. Here I show that different reputable surveys put that figure from between 6-17%, with a slant towards the lower figure. Even Polly Toynbee has only suggested that 10% of the kids currently on EMA would be drop outs without it.  Given this is Polly ‘Final Solution’ Toynbee we’re talking about, let’s assume she is probably exaggerating, and go in with that figure which is also about an average of a lot of the ‘deadweight’ figures.  The current EMA pot is 550m, so that works out as 55m.  The government are increasing the ‘enhanced discretionary learner support fund’ for this purpose by...52 million!

But obviously, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good campaign. Cutting EMA and replacing it with the scheme outlined above is obviously evil, wicked, devastating, punitive, cruel, unfairpernicious, a tragedy and a travesty.

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