East London borough brings back EMA

An East London borough has become the first in England to bring back the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for its teenage residents that stay in education.

1,650 students are expected to benefit from the council’s £1.1 million investment into Education Maintenance Allowance and University Bursary Awards starting in November.

With Tower Hamlets being one of the most deprived boroughs in England, the EMA will ensure that wealth is not a factor that stands between a young person and their education.

The Directly Elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman, who leads the Aspire party, said: “School and university got me to where I am today, allowing me to gain my law degree, and do good for my community.

“I want those same opportunities for all our young people.”

Teenagers who remain in education after the age of 16 can now claim up to £200 a term if they have a household income of less than £25,000.

He said that bringing back the EMA and bursaries for young people was amongst his biggest priorities as Mayor.

Ms Begum, a resident of Tower Hamlets said: “I’m glad this is back as it’s a good scheme for young people who really need it.

“Coming from a household that has benefited from bursaries and EMA, I am very glad it’s back especially given our current economic state – young people will be struggling more than ever in this cost of living crisis.”

In 2015, Mr Rahman was forced to step down after an election court suggested he was guilty of corrupt and illegal practices including vote-rigging and buying votes.

The police and Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal prosecution.

Despite the controversies, years later in the 2022 election, Mr Rahman received an astonishing 40,804 votes against the former Mayor John Biggs on 33,487.

Following his victory Mr Rahman urged the people in his borough to “judge me on what we will do for you.”

He said: “I want to rebuild Tower Hamlets, I want to invest in our future, and give our people a better future than we had in the last seven years.”

Councillor Maium Talukdar, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning said that the two schemes that have opened up demonstrate the council’s commitment to supporting young people in Tower Hamlets at a time when many families are struggling.

The application for EMA and University Bursaries will open from November 1 2022- 1 January 2023, and payments will be backdated to September.

Applications should be submitted on the EMA and University Bursary schemes web page.

Featured image credit: Image credit: Steven Haslington

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