Labour's announcement to restore maintenance grants and Educational Maintenance Allowances for disadvantaged students when in Government, would be a lifeline for thousands of young people across the Fylde, Gordon has said.
Speaking about the pledge to reinstate the maintenance grants for disadvantaged Higher Education students, the Tory Government scrapped earlier this year, he said: "I’m delighted we have been able to make this commitment this week. It is a beacon of hope to all those in the town going on to Higher Education or thinking about it.
"The figures I quoted when I led Labour’s opposition debate over the Government scrapping these grants in Parliament in January show that over half a million poorer students nationwide are losing out from their decision.
"Many of those students are doing degree courses at Further Education Colleges, like our own excellent Blackpool and Fylde College. Restoring the grant would benefit around 1500 students there, and encourage others to apply. Thousands of other students from Blackpool, many of them at universities in Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford as well as UCLAN would get the benefit too.
"Restoring the Educational Maintenance Allowance, which the Tories scrapped in 2011, and which helped 16-18 year olds from poorer families in Blackpool in full time education to boost their participation and aim for Higher Education, is the other part of this package. Research showed it helped those students get better grades and A levels and I know from my conversations with Blackpool teachers and students how badly it has been missed.
"A new EMA would benefit around three quarters of a million young people countrywide, and at a time when people across Blackpool are getting their A level results and other qualifications, it shows them we have a positive and fully costed strategy to help them get better jobs, skills and careers.
"It is fully costed at £2.4 billion from official figures. Restoring the grants to disadvantaged students and the EMA would be paid for by a 1.5 per cent rise in Corporation Tax paid by large businesses, which would raise nearly £3 million. It would reverse two of the most damaging, socially unfair education policies of this Government. Scrapping the grants has hit mature students too, like the married woman with two children from Blackpool who wrote to me that her grants had helped her to do a degree at UCLAN, having had ill health when younger and unable to study.
"These pledges would help both social mobility and the local economy in Blackpool for the reasons I’ve outlined. They will be part of the challenge that I and my colleagues will be throwing down to Theresa May’s new ministers when we debate their unfair new Universities Bill in Parliament next month."
You can sign Labour's petition on restoring EMA and Maintenance Grants by clicking here.