5. Financial support for young people should be made available

Recommendation 5

Financial support for young people should be made available to allow them to participate in the best learning for them - irrespective of transport costs and other needs such as childcare.

There is now less money to support students with the incidental costs of accessing education than there was in the past.  Education Maintenance Allowances were abolished in 2011 and replaced by bursaries, but with a budget cut of more than 50%. At the same time, public transport fares have risen. A recent survey suggests that many travel costs range from £10-20 a week which adds up to significant cost for those on limited budgets[1].  Transport is a major factor that influences young people’s access to education or training. In addition, young people in colleges and undertaking apprenticeships often have to travel further than those that study at school.

The legislation governing the transport support that should be available to 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education has not been properly updated since the education and training participation age rose to age 18 nor does it reflect the aim to increase apprenticeship participation. The new combined authorities have an opportunity to tackle the long standing need to provide affordable and accessible transport to education and training.

There are also issues for apprentices. Parents get child benefit for 16 and 17-year-olds who stay in education but lose this if their child starts an apprenticeship. Apprentices are paid a lower minimum wage. Anyone who is unemployed who takes an apprenticeship loses access to free prescriptions or dental treatment. Perhaps some of the grants for employers should be directed to the apprentice.

 

[1] NUS Pound in your Pocket survey 2012.