IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces

Using a new fangled technique the IFS yesterday finally shot to pieces the coalition’s arguments in favour of abolishing Education Maintenance Allowance.

Using a new fangled technique – called cost-benefit analysis or something – the Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday finally shot to pieces the coalition’s arguments in favour of abolishing Education Maintenance Allowance. It is a decision not based on sensible public policy; it is quite simply about cutting come what may. They reached for any argument possible in the process hence the peculiar and, credit where credit’s due, original use of the ‘deadweight’ argument. It’s just not a good way to assess the impact of programmes and investment – at all.

Last week, I confronted the ‘deadweight loss’ argument which the Government claims is 88 per cent based on a survey that was conducted on its behalf. My argument was that a whole swathe of public policy interventions would be discontinued if this were the test. Let’s not get into a statistical to and fro.

In fact, let’s play a game. How many policy areas can you think of where there is large degree of ‘deadweight’? There will be dozens and dozens.

My opening shot was GP check ups (the vast majority would pay for health check ups if the government didn’t so that’s the ‘deadweight’). The IFS came up with two more: the government’s policy to support start-up businesses outside the south-east which arguably has a deadweight of 96 per cent and child benefit payments to the families of kids who are older than 16. Anyone else for the ‘deadweight’ game?

The IFS research goes further. Not only does it find that EMA improves participation and attainment – its central objectives – but it pays for itself. Improved qualifications lead to improved wages which means more growth and more taxes. And when the £56,000 lifetime cost per NEET is taken into account also EMA, on a balanced cost-benefit analysis, starts to look like a rather good policy.

The IFS findings understate the impact that colleges are finding on participation and attainment where success rates (which is retention multipied by achievement) in excess of 5 per cent above college averages are often reported for recipients of EMA.

Hot on the heels of EMA abolition comes the Skills Funding Agency’s ‘Guidance note 6’ also published yesterday. Sounds relatively innocuous doesn’t it? If anything the changes to the funding of further education contained with the note are more damaging to the least advantaged than even EMA. From a policy standpoint it is also perplexing as it will evidently hold back active welfare policy and, yes, social mobility.

The real horrors are in section 13. Fee remission will be discontinued for the following over-24-year-old groups (with the exception of those going for a GCSE equivalent level 2 qualification):

– Those in receipt of Council Tax Benefit;

– Those in receipt of Housing Benefit;

– Those in receipt of Income Support;

– Those in receipt of Working Tax Credit;

– Those in receipt of Pension Credit;

– Those in receipt of contribution based ESA (unless in the Work Related Activity Group); and

– The unwaged dependants (as defined by the Department for Work and Pensions) of those listed above.

The very first paragraph of the note states:

“This reform is founded on the principles of fairness, shared responsibility and greater freedom:

· Fairness means supporting those in need, including prioritising young adults; the unemployed on active benefits; and those without basic literacy and numeracy skills.”

How on earth can this be seen to be fair, share responsibility, and provide for greater freedom? This is a continuation of this coalition’s nasty habit of saying it is doing one thing while actually doing the diametric opposite.

A qualification is not only a way to become more active in life, it provides work opportunities and helps an individual keep work once they have it. The IFS hasn’t done one of those new fangled cost-benefit things on this policy. If they did I am almost certain the impact would be enormous. Quite why the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury were willing to allow this policy through is bizarre. For the individuals impacted they are now faced with a £2,000+ charge for a standard full-time qualification. It is just not going to happen.

EMA was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact on the least advantaged of the myriad of changes to the funding of skills. It is far worse than the abolition of EMA alone. All there is left to do is plead. Yes, plead to Vince Cable. Please do not do this. It makes no sense. It will wreck lives. It will hold people on benefits and they will increasingly suffer there. Please revisit these policies immediately. That’s what it has come to – pleading.

49 Responses to “IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces”

  1. Ashley Wells

    RT @leftfootfwd: IFS shoots coalition's deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces: http://bit.ly/dMToQk writes @AnthonyPainter

  2. Matt Hayes

    RT @leftfootfwd: IFS shoots coalition's deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces: http://bit.ly/dMToQk writes @AnthonyPainter

  3. Keith White

    RT @leftfootfwd: IFS shoots coalition's deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces: http://bit.ly/dMToQk writes @AnthonyPainter

  4. Will Straw

    Brilliant piece from @AnthonyPainter on the travesty of Coalition's broken promise in scrapping EMAs http://bit.ly/dMToQk #pmqs

  5. NUS Student Media

    RT @wdjstraw: Brilliant piece from @AnthonyPainter on the travesty of Coalition's broken promise in scrapping EMAs http://bit.ly/dMToQk

  6. Stephen Whitehead

    Christ: People on in-work benefits to pay full fees for further #education This will make Lvl3 quals unaffordable http://bit.ly/dWObnE #cuts

  7. Stephen Whitehead

    Changes to further #education funding are another way to stop work paying: http://bit.ly/dWObnE #cuts #ukuncut #vandalism

  8. Mike O'Brien

    RT @leftfootfwd: IFS shoots coalition's deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces: http://bit.ly/dMToQk writes @AnthonyPainter

  9. James Ross

    RT @leftfootfwd: IFS shoots coalition's deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces: http://bit.ly/dMToQk writes @AnthonyPainter

  10. Anthony Painter

    If you want to see why the Prime Minister is talking nonsense on EMA I've revisited the issue today http://bit.ly/dMToQk #pmqs #saveema

  11. Anthony Painter

    #saveema important. Cuts in education funding of those on benefits/ tax credits could cause even more suffering http://bit.ly/dMToQk #pmqs

  12. baalhadad

    If education to 18 is going to be made compulsory, how will the EMA wreck people’s lives?

  13. Anthony Painter

    RT @Steveistall: Changes to further #education funding are another way to stop work paying: http://bit.ly/dWObnE #cuts #ukuncut #vandalism

  14. Shamik Das

    RT @wdjstraw Brilliant piece from @AnthonyPainter on the travesty of Coalition's broken promise in scrapping EMAs http://bit.ly/dMToQk #pmqs

  15. Marcus A. Roberts

    RT @wdjstraw: Brilliant piece from @AnthonyPainter on the travesty of Coalition's broken promise in scrapping EMAs http://bit.ly/dMToQk

  16. Anthony Painter

    @baalhadad you raise a fundamental issue. How does abolishing an allowance that promotes participation contribute to the achievement of 100% 16-18 participation in education? It runs in the opposite direction of the Government’s stated aim- like so often is the case (as you can see with the changes to funding the skills training of those on benefits/credits as well.) It’s going to be interesting to see how on earth the coalition will achieve a compulsory education leaving age of 18. It may be a choice between that and tax cuts. I wonder which will win out…..

  17. False Economy

    IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  18. WestMonster

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  19. Laurie

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  20. Andy S

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  21. Nick H.

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  22. Derek Thomas

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  23. Éoin Clarke

    Children will now have to take on part-time jobs to make up for the shortfall in their income as a result in the removal of EMA. These are usually late night or weekend jobs, precisely the times kids should be resting, recouerating and indeed doing their homework… I estimate based on my teaching experience both at Uni level and secondary level, that this costs a student 1 grade per subject 🙁

  24. Pauline Hammerton

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  25. Jan Bennett

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  26. david carpenter

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  27. Paul Davies

    RT @wdjstraw: Brilliant piece from @AnthonyPainter on the travesty of Coalition's broken promise in scrapping EMAs http://bit.ly/dMToQk

  28. Juan Voet

    RT @FalseEcon: IFS shoots coalition’s deadweight EMA cuts argument to pieces, by @anthonypainter http://bit.ly/dWObnE
    #ukuncut

  29. » Ewan Aitken For Eastern Edinburgh

    […] cut it. They hate anything that helps others but the SNP’s removal of the EMA is bizarre. The Institute of Fiscal Studies points out, the EMA is not, as the Tories would have it, dead weight. In stead it really helps […]

  30. Keira Winstanley

    I am a student myself. 16. I heavily depend on my EMA each week I myself am in a poor family. I see these cuts as very unfair and as well as cuts to other things and a rise in prices. I see it as just a way to, how do you say? Get rid of the ‘Poor’. Which again I think is just not fair. Because if teh EMA is cut, many students will end up dropping out and not gaining their qualifications, including myself. @Eoin Clarke: I can agree with what your saying there, most will have to get jobs, wating time in a low paying job instead of being able to learn and train for getting a decent one.

  31. Anthony Painter

    Both a teacher and a 16 year-old student have now commented on my #saveema blog from yesterday. http://bit.ly/fRrvVx

  32. Julia Higginbottom

    RT @anthonypainter: Both a teacher and a 16 year-old student have now commented on my #saveema blog from yesterday. http://bit.ly/fRrvVx

  33. Ian

    The EMA issue got somewhat lost in the protests, maybe the middle class kids weren’t so bothered about it?? but it’s another sign that under the “it’s labours fault, we’re lovely and understand your pain” cuts narrative we’ll see lots of regressive measures that impact on te most vulneralbe in society.

    Can you explain a bit more aboutt he “deadweight” argument as I don’t really get it….

  34. Ian Sullivan

    Ace blog – what's deadweight mean? @anthonypainter RT teacher and a 16 year-old student commented on my #saveema blog. http://bit.ly/fRrvVx

  35. Anthony Painter

    Hi Ian. In public policy terms it’s when expenditure is undertaken to promote a certain behaviour, e.g. participating in education, but the behaviour would have occurred anyway (e.g. you give a payment to students who were planning to participate without the payment.)

  36. Updated report on cuts facing young people « NCVYS' Financial Monitoring Blog

    […] Education Maintenance Allowances, imposing significant cuts to employment benefit and abandoning the Future Jobs Fund all hits the […]

  37. dan hancox

    @Homeboy_Hotel @DuncanTigerHero two pieces of detailed analysis here on how EMA drives attainment http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA

  38. dan hancox

    http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA those lazily saying 'EMA doesn't work' shd read these superb analyses by @anthonypainter #saveEMA

  39. Josie Long

    RT @danhancox: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA those lazily saying 'EMA doesn't work' shd read these superb analyses by @antho …

  40. Jill Hayward

    RT @danhancox: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA those lazily saying 'EMA doesn't work' shd read these superb analyses by @antho …

  41. david

    RT @danhancox: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA those lazily saying 'EMA doesn't work' shd read these superb analyses by @antho …

  42. Sam Diamond

    RT @danhancox: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA those lazily saying 'EMA doesn't work' shd read these superb analyses by @antho …

  43. Anthony Painter

    I did a couple of pieces analysing the research behind the scrapping of EMA here: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA

  44. Kate Williams

    .@anthonypainter nails EMA-scrappage here: http://bit.ly/idnhag and here http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA

  45. Public University

    A couple of pieces analysing research behind scrapping of EMA here: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA @ULivUCU

  46. Richard Hall

    RT @public_uni: A couple of pieces analysing research behind scrapping of EMA here: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA @ …

  47. Martin McQuillan

    RT @public_uni: A couple of pieces analysing research behind scrapping of EMA here: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA @ …

  48. Alex

    RT @public_uni: A couple of pieces analysing research behind scrapping of EMA here: http://bit.ly/idnhag http://bit.ly/dFBUkA #saveEMA @ …

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