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Action due over student grant axe

Campaigners are due to take part in a day of action against controversial plans to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

It comes as MPs prepare to vote on a motion, during an opposition day debate in Parliament, that calls for the Government to rethink its plans for the grant.

Ahead of this afternoon's debate, campaigners will hold a lobby in the House of Commons.

EMA teenagers from two London colleges will take part in specially-arranged lessons at Parliament during the morning, and students are to hand out "save EMA" biscuits outside Parliament.

The EMA is a weekly payment of between £10 and £30 given to the poorest 16 to 18-year-olds, living in households earning under £30,800 a year, to help them stay in education.

But the Government has announced the grant is to be withdrawn, and it is has already been closed to new applicants.

Campaigners are warning that scrapping the grant will affect thousands of youngsters who rely on the money to help fund their studies.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said the Government's decisions over the EMA have been a "complete shambles".

"First they pledged they would not axe it, now they say they will. They clearly have no understanding of how important the EMA is or the difference it makes to so many people's chances of improving themselves.

"Once again, they look horribly out of touch with the majority of people in the country - something highlighted by the revelation that the Education Secretary decided to axe the EMA despite never having visited a further education college."

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