Gloucester MP welcomes £180 million fund to help vulnerable 16-19 year olds

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has welcomed the announcement of a £180 million bursary scheme to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to continue in full time education after the age of 16.

The scheme is made up of two parts – a guaranteed payment of £1200 a year the most vulnerable 16- 19 year olds, worth more than anybody got under the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), and a discretionary fund for schools and colleges to distribute.

There will also be additional transitional arrangements to help those who are part-way through their studies and are currently receiving the EMA. This includes all students who first successfully applied for EMA in 2009/10 who will continue to receive payments at the same level until the end of the 2011/12 academic year. The new fund is good news for many in Gloucester.

During a statement on the fund given by Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, in the House of Commons yesterday Mr Graham asked if the vital funds could be given in vouchers, saying:

“Today's announcement will benefit the most disadvantaged youngsters in my constituency, as elsewhere, but in these very difficult times for Government spending, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that the fund should be spent on transport and food rather than on "time out with friends". Will he consider allowing colleges to distribute the money through vouchers for transport and food rather than in cash?”

The Minister for Skills John Hayes MP later confirmed that this option was being considered.