Poll: Nearly half of public oppose EMA abolition

Almost half the British public oppose the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, a new YouGov poll has revealed, writes James Mills of the Save EMA campaign.

By James Mills of the Save EMA campaign

Almost half the British public oppose the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), a new YouGov poll has revealed, and would prefer to keep the current scheme and not replace it as the government proposes. This will come as a blow for the coalition and many coalition backbench MPs, as only two MPs from coalition parties voted against abolishing EMA on the vote last month that the Save EMA campaign successfully lobbied to get.

The poll also shows that a substantial amount of voters who voted Tory and Lib Dem at the last election oppose the abolition of the EMA.

Fifty per cent of those who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 oppose the abolition of EMA – with 42% of those who still intend to vote for Nick Clegg’s party also opposed to the abolition.

Something that might also give backbench Tory MPs concern is that 27% who voted Conservative in 2010 and 25% who still intend to vote for David Cameron’s party also oppose abolition of EMA.

The findings will be sure to concern the seven London Lib Dem MPs, as, according to the poll, almost half of Londoners oppose the government’s decision; MPs such as Sarah Teather and Simon Hughes, who both have large amounts of teenagers on EMA in their constituencies, will find this poll worrying reading.

There are just over 600,000 teenagers in England alone who receive EMA and 4 out of 5 come from families where household income is under £21,000 a year, with the poll revealing that 53% of people from C1,D, E socio-economic backgrounds, the group who are most likely to receive EMA, opposing the government’s plans.

The government may find this poll even more worrying as it appears almost half of women oppose their plans to scrap EMA. However, earlier this week, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith declared his support for marriage tax breaks, following up David Cameron’s comments in the Daily Mail in December that he will bring in his Marriage Tax Incentive regardless of the complaints of Lib Dem coalition colleagues.

The estimated loss to public finances of a Marriage Tax Incentive is £550 million according to the Tory manifesto and a ‘deadweight’ of 3 out 10 (i.e. those who would get married regardless of the £3 a week incentive) according to the IFS; it would be interesting to know whether women would support a bribe to get married over support to get an education…

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