Wednesday, 19 January 2011

EMA or Marriage Tax Break?

The clue's in the title, would you rather spend taxpayer money on Educational Maintenance Allowance, giving young adults the opportunity to stay in education, or give that same money to reward marriage, with no real proven benefits to family cohesion or other area of society?

I ask because the amount being 'saved' by scrapping EMA is £500m, whereas the Coalition's new tax break for marriage is costing £550m. They have decided the latter is more important.

We now know that the claim that these cuts are 'tough but necessary' is utter hogwash. It is a political choice by the Tory government, and allowed by the Lib Dems, between investing in the future skills of our nation and in giving a nice present to their voters.

The statistic that 90% would continue in education without EMA is from totally irrelevant research. It was published by a reputable source, but was not meant to be used in this context. They asked a sample of Year 11 pupils, who had no idea what hardships they may face when going to further education. The only applicable group to poll would be teenagers currently receiving EMA, not those who may (or rather may not after today's vote) receive it.

As the IFS have already reported, the amount spent on EMA is recovered handsomely as the recipient is kept off benefits and can actively contribute to the exchequer through taxation. Abolishing it is economic lunacy, and completely out of touch with the real life needs of young people. Though, I suppose we should have seen it coming after the madness of the trebling of tuition fees, locking thousands out of a better future and starving our economy of bright minds from poorer backgrounds.

First they scrapped the Future Jobs Fund for young people, then they trebled tuition fees, then they scrapped AimHigher. Now they've scrapped EMA, and today they also announced that they wish to privatise the NHS. Just how exactly do they expect us to believe we're 'all in this together'?

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