NUS-USI President Adrianne Peltz has labelled as disastrous the options outlined in a consultation on Education Maintenance Allowance which was announced today. Every option outlined by the consultation from the Education and Employment and Learning Departments advocates the scrapping of the £10 and £20 weekly payments, which would mean thousands of 16-19 years olds in training and education would lose their financial support.
Adrianne Peltz said: “I am extremely annoyed about the options announced in the consultation - they are nothing short of disastrous for young people here. The scrapping of the two lower bands of EMA would hit thousands of students around Northern Ireland very hard.
“Any cuts to EMA whatsoever will very seriously undermine NEET and skills strategies because when you slice away layers of support for students, you are effectively denying some people the chance to complete their studies as they won’t be able to afford to. Any cut could see many young people being forced to quit their course to find a job to help make ends meet.
“This announcement is absolutely terrible news for students in Northern Ireland and says a lot about government’s attitude to young people. EMA is meant to be all about helping young people fulfil their potential, their hopes and their dreams. These proposals could see many people’s hopes and dreams placed in serious jeopardy.
“EMA is all about investing in young people and is all about the future in Northern Ireland. What sort of message do these options send out to young people who are already facing extremely tough times in the current economic climate?
“As far as I can see, the outcome of this much vaunted review is essentially the potential scrapping of the lowest bands of EMA, with absolutely no positive outcomes for students in most need.
“This is not the way to go about helping young people and growing our economy, and could put Northern Ireland on a very troubling path as regards youth unemployment. Cuts like these would set many young people back and prevent them from reaching their potential. I call on the Ministers to have an urgent rethink and consider the consequences of their plans regarding EMA.”