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MP challenges EMA decision; Burnham bid for judicial review.

Byline: IAN HERNON

LIVERPOOL-BORN Andy Burnham is spearheading a legal challenge to the Government's decision to strip local sixth-formers of an average pounds 27 a week.

The shadow educational secretary wants a judicial review based on claims that the axing of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) breaches previous coalition promises.

The cash, previously received by around 22,000 young people across Merseyside, was aimed at helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds travel to college.

Mr Burnham is helping to organise students to mount test cases because they have already begun courses and are building up costs which they can no longer claim. Such test cases will be bankrolled by Unison.

Mr Burnham said: "It is unjust and it will damage the life chances of many young people.

"It was a rushed decision with no consultation and ministers have used highly selective evidence to justify this further cut."

The legal challenge centres on the case of students who started new courses in September with the "reasonable expectation" that they would receive funding for the next two years.

Mr Burnham told the ECHO: "They made a life decision based on that... and out of the blue in October the Government pulled the plug.'' He added: "We have been told that the legal case is very strong and I would encourage young people from the Liverpool CHALLENGE: Andy region to come forward."

He accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of another "botched" operation following the row over student tuition fees, the axing of the Building Schools for the Future programme and his partial U-turn over school sports funding.

He also accused both Mr Gove and PM David Cameron of reneging on previous promises that EMA would be untouched.

Burnham But Mr Gove insisted that the EMA system was "poor value for money" because since in was set up in 1999 only five to six per cent more 16-year-olds have stayed on in sixth forms or colleges.

The EMA cut is expected to be the focus of student anger this week during two days of action before a Commons debate on Wednesday.

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CHALLENGE: Andy Burnham
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2011
Words:351
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