This was Labour's policy while they were still trying to be fiscally responsible. It is ironic that this should break today, Alan Johnson, a decent man, was being frank and sensible with the Education Select Committee in 2007. By the time of the election and Ed Miliband's manifesto, they were going for broke and were happy to bribe shamelessly. So what's half a billion between friends when you can slip some extra pocket money to 65% of students staying at school or in further education. Catch a new voter early, when they are idealistic and easily influenced and you may hang on to them for a few elections. Of course the price paid is that the sensible amount of money required to help keep the children from the most disadvantaged families in education wasn't there. Given a choice between targeted spendng that genuinely encourages social mobility and encouraging a dependency culture by bribing potential Labour voters, Labour chose the latter. Not that we Lib Dems can be holier than though on this, wasn't our fees policy just another unaffordable and much more expensive bribe?
You’d be hard pressed to guess it given all the heat generated by Labour about how the government’s plans to replace the EMA with different support for 16-18 year olds. But here, from 2007 and being passed around on Twitter and Facebook today, is what Labour was planning to do:
An incentive scheme that rewards 16- to 18-year-olds for staying in education post-16 will be abolished when the leaving age is increased to 18.
The Secretary of State for Education said last week that education maintenance allowances (EMAs) would no longer be necessary when the age is raised in 2015.
Giving evidence to the Education and Skills Select Committee inquiry into 14-19 education, Alan Johnson said: “The EMA is there as an incentive to stay on. We will not need to incentivise after 2015.”