The motion proposed by Plaid Cymru Economy Spokesperson Luke Fletcher MS was debated and agreed in the Senedd yesterday.
The motion proposed by Mr Fletcher, regional Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, managed to gain the support of 37 Members, including Education Minister Jeremy Miles in the Chamber earlier today, with caveats that recognise the budgetary limitations on the Welsh Government.
The motion proposed that the Senedd:
- that the Welsh Government retained education maintenance allowance, unlike the UK Government in England;
- that in Wales, the value of education maintenance allowance has not changed since 2004, and the eligibility thresholds have not changed since 2011;
- that while education maintenance allowance is an important form of financial support for post-16 learners, it has not kept up with cost-of-living pressures.
- Calls on the Welsh Government to consider an inflation-linked uplift to the value of education maintenance allowance and a review of the thresholds.
The motion forms part of a longstanding campaign of Mr Fletcher’s to improve Education Maintenance Allowance. Since being elected in May 2021, Mr Fletcher has consistently raised concerns around EMA in the Chamber, both around its value and the eligibility thresholds.
During the debate today, Mr Fletcher said: “The fact that we have EMA here in Wales whilst England go without is something we should all be proud of.
“As we all know, the cost of living has had a detrimental impact on so many of our constituents; amongst them are students, particularly students from low-income households.
“What we’ve seen since 2004 is a real-terms cut in EMA. The payment as remained the same, the thresholds haven’t changed since 2011, and now low-income students are feeling the effects of that more than ever. The £30 I received when I was in receipt of EMA got me a lot further than the £30 of a student today.
“Fundamentally, I am committed to improving EMA and I am committed to working with the Minister. I am glad that the Welsh Government are willing to support this motion, of course with the caveat that there are limitations.”
Responding to the debate, the Education Minister Jeremy Miles MS said: “We as a Government recognise the positive impact that EMA can have on young people, and we are still committed, in accordance with the programme for government, to maintaining the allowance.
“The Government will support the motion today, recognising the limitations on our room for action but also the merits of a review.
“In the meantime, we will continue to use every single lever available to us to support our young people and ensure that we do all we can to reflect the principle that money should never be a barrier to accessing education.”
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