Page last updated at 01:08 GMT, Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Parents struggle on teens' needs

students working in college
Teenagers can receive up to 30 a week to study

Parents earning less than £30,000 struggle to support teenagers to enable them to stay in education beyond the age of 16, a report suggests.

The Learning and Skills Council said over 40% of parents with a household income of below £30,000 had trouble providing all their child needed.

The report is based on a poll of 2,029 people interviewed online.

Teenagers from low income families are eligible for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) of £10 to £30 per week.

Essential costs

The grants also include bonuses of up to £500 over two years.

The LSC said its research suggested young people from lower income households were missing out on everyday needs.

Just 31% of parents with a household income of up to £30,000 spent money on college and school trips for their children compared with 40% of parents earning more than £30,000.

Education minister Maria Eagle said EMAs helped young people pay for essential costs such as travel to college, lunch, trips and books and equipment.

I knew that even if I did get an evening job I would be shattered so I needed some sort of financial help
Teenage beneficiary of an EMA grant

Director of Learner Support at the Learning and Skills Council, Trevor Fellowes, added: "Far from being spent on luxuries, young people can use their EMA to pay for essential travel to and from college, lunches, course trips and the books and equipment needed to succeed on their chosen course."

One 18-year-old to benefit from receiving an EMA grant receives £30 a week.

From Withington, Greater Manchester, she has returned to college to take GCSEs. She would then like to do AS-levels with a view to working with children with either behavioural or psychological difficulties.

While her parents support her, and she lives at home, she said it would be difficult to afford to go to college without the EMA.


She said: "Because I knew I was going to be at college full-time I knew that even if I did get an evening job I would be shattered so I needed some sort of financial help."

She added: "I smoke so it helps me get some cigarettes and just general things. Even if I just want to go to the shop and buy some chocolate or some earrings."

She said she also now had the motivation to attend college.

"I always wanted to go back to college but this also gives me the motivation because if I don't, I lose money.

"There has to be 100% attendance because if you don't go you either have a debit on your EMA or you might not get your bonus."

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