The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity


8:55 am - March 30th 2011

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contribution by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg

Begging your A Level teacher for an extension on your coursework can be an uncomfortable experience. Begging your teachers for a tenner so that you can afford the bus to school is probably somewhat more degrading. Yesterday, the education secretary, Michael Gove, announced the replacement for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

The scheme will cost £180 million, a little over a quarter of what was put into the EMA. Just 12,000 students, less than one in every hundred, will qualify for a bursary. Meanwhile, 90% of the cash will go to headteachers to allocate at their discretion, to help students pay for books, food and transport. All of which makes sense when you consider the mean-spirited rhetoric with which the attack on EMA was justified.

“In a slip seized on by Tories”, the Daily Mail reported at the time, Andy Burnham had “conceded that the cash was not all spent on essentials but also on having fun”. Indeed he had “confessed” that students “may spend some of it on food and even the occasional time out with friends”, so that they wouldn’t be completely excluded from the social life of their peers.

It was, of course, unacceptable to the Tory Press that poorer students might be offered the chance to enjoy a bit of basic autonomy while they studied for their A Levels. And apparently it is unacceptable to the coalition government.

Like Victorian commoners appealing for charity, and promising not spend any of it on liquor, poorer students will now have to go cap-in-hand to their head-teachers and convince them that they will be good and spend any money they get on books. Please sir, can I have a tenner?

Gove has said that this move “fits in with our agenda of devolving power to head teachers”. In reality, this is sucking power upwards, from low-income students – who have hitherto enjoyed fairly meagre support as a right – towards school heads who will now be expected to act as godfathers.

“Headteachers”, Michael Gove tells us, “are best placed to know who needs this money”. Does he honestly believe this? And does he really imagine that students will all be happy to let their teachers in on all of their family circumstances, as a prerequisite to getting help? Without hesitation, I would far sooner hand over such information to a faceless bureaucrat.

This is about making cuts, but it is also about so much more. It is about wiping away any conception of social rights. It is about replacing the ethic of the welfare state with a more ancient – and frankly degrading – system of Victorian style charity.

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Reader comments


Would this be the same writer who wrote on his blog:

“It is my hope then, that instead of criticizing them actions of other protesters, supporters of UK Uncut will begin to understand why many black bloc activists do what they do. As some writers from the student movement put it, “Cover your face: today, we can do nothing as somebody or something as nobody””

Meanwhile heaven forfend that school kids should be deprived of their taxpayer funded pocket money.

The entire welfare state is to be replaced by Victorian style charity. Prepare to see single mums begging committees of church going ladies with pearls for a small sum to tide her over to the end of the month, and being denied because “they chose to have children without a husband or an income to provide for them”. And the smugly self righteous tax payers who so loathe helping their fellow citizens will nod sagely and say, “About time”.

“Begging your teachers for a tenner so that you can afford the bus to school is probably somewhat more degrading.”

So applying to your school for support is “begging to your teacher”, but applying to the LEA (or whoever administers EMA) is perfectly fine and dandy? (Perhaps in fact its begging faceless bureaucrats?) What a pointless article.

“The entire welfare state is to be replaced by Victorian style charity.”

Total Managed Expenditure averaged 40% of GDP over the 20 years through 2007.
(It was below that level on average during Labour’s first term).
It rose to 48% during the crisis.
The plan is to take it back to….40%, by 2015-16.
NB Labour/Darling’s plan was to take it back to 42%.

The entire welfare state is to be replaced by Victorian style charity.

Total Govt expenditure in 1890 – £150m (equivalent to £13.5bn in 2011)
Total Govt expenditure in 2010 – £669bn

Of which welfare (stripping out pensions and health care, which would exagerrate the position since neither were state-funded at all in 1890):

1890 – £7m (£600m)
2010 – £109bn

There’s a fair old way to go here.

Accusations of Victorian-style charity from someone with a Victorian-style surname. Are you also descended from baronets like Adam Ramsay?

The purpose of the EMA is to support young adults of limited means in education. It seems then entirely reasonable that in reform it should be focused on young adults of limited means, and that it should be tied to them demonstrating a commitment to education.

If you wish to give young adults a hand-out or minimum income to support something else, that is a different argument, one better focused on general welfare.

But your argument appears to be that highly targeted benefits should be created that are actually a way of fooling the taxpayer into supporting general redistribution.

It’s a point of view, not one most taxpayers would support, nor an efficient way of focusing resources the government is currently borrowing from young adults of the future.

FFS can we stop with the Victorian bashing already. You lefties ought to love the Victorians – they built public works such as sewage systems, the industries that gave birth to the Labour movement (mining etc) grew up in the C19th, they brought in compulsory public education, spread the (Christian) idea of rehabilitation, advanced public health and created a culture of philanthropy that didn’t exist before. They also had a welfare state based on mutualism.

This is a load of twaddle. Whilst I have reservations about scrapping EMA, a system which will see sixth formers who actually need EMA get more than they do at the moment is not “Victorian style charity”.

Only 12% of EMA recipients say they would not be in further education without it. A system which will see more money focused on that group (and on more besides) is far better than a system which awarded £30 a week to middle class people like myself.

There’s a more detailed explanation of it here:

http://www.libdemvoice.org/educational-maintenance-allowance-how-hard-is-it-for-the-new-policy-to-be-better-23605.html

But suffice to say that a system which will see the most disadvantaged get more, whilst providing a hardship fund for others (no different than what you have at universities) is far better than the current one. Furthermore, a discretionary hardship fund is far better at delivering targeted help than a system which relies purely on a bureaucratic definition of “need”.

10. Mr S. Pill

@8

Go away and read Engels before making such nonsensical claims. Sure, there was some good stuff about the Victorians (let’s not get into a Monty Python-esque “what did they ever do for us?”) but the era was marked by poverty, disease, lack of aspiration, a snobbish notion of the “deserving” poor, bigotry etc etc etc.

Accusations of Victorian-style charity from someone with a Victorian-style surname.

Seriously, WTF?

12. NeoCon Clegg

Don’t believe the potty nonsense from Lid Dem Pravda.

Here’s a factcheck on Gove’s laughable and wrong EMA Spin.

http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-bad-marks-for-gove-on-ema

@1 cjcjc: Nope I am not the writer who wrote the piece regarding Ukuncut and the blackblog.

@6: Not sure what is particularly Victorian style about my surname, and no I am not related to Mr Ramsay or any other baronets. Not many hereditary peers called Rosenberg I would imagine. My double barrelled name is purely a function of my mother’s feminist objections to me simply getting my fathers name.

11
Yes, and you’ve just described the tory view of the 21st century working-class.

So, some of the EMA may be spent on leisure activities, I hope those who complain about this were not in receipt of a full grant to do a degree and did not spend any of it on that evil pursuit.

8 The Victorians invented mining LOL

15. Sevillista

What is the point of the EMA anymore, even abstracting from the massive cuts to it?

Under the last Government, a transparent national system acted as a clear incentive to stay on at school.

The new system transforms this into an uncertain incentive at the point at which a decision is being made to stay on in school).

It will just cease to function as something that can effect choices being made at 16. Why not just abolish it?

16. Dick the Prick

Thick kids shouldn’t stay on at school and we certainly shouldn’t be paying them.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  3. Anon Y Mous

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  4. Ferret Dave

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  5. Ina Mood

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  6. Matt Jeffs

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  7. James McLaughlin

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  8. Jennifer O'Mahony

    The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OHDbZMF via @libcon

  9. Tony Hatfield

    RT @libcon: The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity http://bit.ly/fzYC5b ,deserving and undeserving poor!>

  10. Oxford Kevin

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  11. Sarah Jackson

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  12. Pixie1965

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  13. Pucci Dellanno

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  14. sponso RING

    The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity | Liberal …: Like Victorian commoners appealing for chari… http://bit.ly/esmGfn

  15. Jane Phillips

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  16. Radished

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  17. Katie

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  18. Lesley Bruce

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  19. David McMillan

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  20. Matt McG

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/30/the-ema-is-to-be-replaced-by-victorian-style-charity/ #eviltorybastards #libdemstoo

  21. Nick H.

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  22. S O Demall

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  23. Jane Ayres

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  24. hilary

    Please sir, can I have a tenner? The return of Victorian charity. http://bit.ly/gRX6yF

  25. The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity | Daily News Items

    […] u-turn by Gove and his Libdem chums over the disgusting removal of EMA from our students but this article in the ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ Blog say it […]

  26. The new EMA … | thecanard

    […] Now, the government have said it’s not being scrapped – just cut. However it’s changed a fair bit and it’s possibly worse – handing power to head teachers to decide who gets how much. The good people at Liberal Conspiracy have an article that sum my feelings perfectly. Linky. […]

  27. Saadaab Janab

    The EMA is to be replaced by Victorian style charity | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/nEdKkIu via @libcon





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