Luke Fletcher ramps up his campaign to increase the Education Maintenance Allowance to help young learners from low-income households cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
A Plaid Cymru MS has ramped up his campaign to increase Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in line with inflation by launching a nationwide survey.
Luke Fletcher, regional Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, has launched the survey as part of his efforts to uplift the value of the payment, which has remained unchanged and fixed at £30 since 2004.
Current estimates from the Bevan Foundation and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language suggest that given current inflationary pressures, the figure should now be closer to £54 per week.
The survey launched by Mr Fletcher is an effort to build upon the earlier work on Education Maintenance Allowance conducted by the Bevan Foundation.
It aims to obtain data on young learners’ experiences of applying for EMA and how students are using EMA in light of current cost-of-living pressures.
It asks whether receiving EMA has made a significant difference to students’ remaining in Further Education and whether the current value of EMA (£30) is adequate and constitutes a meaningful mechanism of support.
Mr Fletcher has reached out to Further Education institutions in Wales asking for their support and to disseminate the survey among learners in receipt of EMA.
Mr Fletcher said: “As the cost of living deepens, it has become even more important that young people’s voices are heard and that the support schemes available to them are fit for purpose and working as they should be.
“There is a very real concern among education providers in relation to the payment as it stands that learners are dropping out of education because they feel that they would be better off financially taking up full-time in employment.”
Mr Fletcher added: “What we need to see from the Welsh Government in the first instance is an assurance that EMA is a priority for them.
“The value, eligibility thresholds and application process must all be reviewed to ensure that we insulate young learners from the cost-of-living as much as we can so that they get the most of their education.”
The EMA survey being carried out by Mr Fletcher can be taken here.