Students from Bsix college and Hackney Community College presented a deputation on cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowance. The Educational Maintenance Allowance was designed to help pupils from lower income backgrounds to stay on in education post 16. Students were entitled to up to £30 a week from the EMA making all the difference in supporting their studies. From 31st Dec last year, the EMA has been scrapped.
Hackney has 54% of 16-18 year old students receiving EMA - this is one of the highest percentages in London. At Hackney Community College, 720 students out of 1400, and at BSix college 760 out of 1300 currently receive the EMA.
The cuts will have a massive impact in Hackney. The students told us of their experiences and how the EMA has enabled them to stay on in education. We firmly believe that post 16 education should not be dependent on whether your family can pay for it or not. Hackney students have been really active in the national Save EMA campaign and councillors across political divides in the Chamber were fully behind their campaign.
There was also a deputation about the changes to the NHS, which Cllr Jonathan McShane, the Cabinet member for Community Services described as “a car crash in the waiting” and outlined concerns about the pace of change and fears that giving GPs powers for commissioning will lead to this being sub contracted to private companies. He stressed the importance of maintaining standards despite the rapid budget cuts.
Jules Pipe also updated councillors on the cuts to local government budgets. With the details of the Local Government Finance Settlement now much clearer, we know Hackney faces a cut of £44m to our 2011/12 budget. Hackney was one of the areas in the country worst hit by the cuts.
Jules Pipe emphasised that in 2011/12 there will be no cuts to frontline services, no raising of eligibility criteria for social care, and no closure of Children Centres in Hackney. This is largely due to Hackney having managed its finances efficiently over the last few years. But we do face tough decision ahead for 2012 and beyond.
Some of the other issues raised during the Council meeting were:
- An update on works to Ridley Road market – involving new footways and road surfaces, and CCTV. There will also be major streetscene improvements from Dalston Lane-Shacklewell Lane starting in June 2011
- Confirmation that Hackney’s MyPlace funding for new youth centres will still go ahead
- An update on the CO2 reduction pilot in Hackney Downs ward – where Global Action Plan have engaged with households to offer expert advice on behavioural and technical measures which can be taken to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions.