In the latest of his series of pledges, former mayor Ken Livingstone has promised to restore the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in London if he’s re-elected.
The EMA was cut by the government in 2010, sparking student protests across the country, as well as being blamed for a drop in student numbers, especially those from poorer backgrounds. Ken has said he’ll introduce a London EMA of up to £30 per week to encourage teenagers to stay on at school or college. How does he plan to fund it though? According to the BBC report, Ken says funding would come from ‘existing funds in colleges, universities, and local authorities and working with the Association of Colleges, London Higher and local councils’.
‘Existing funds’ — where have we heard that before? Oh yes, Ken made a similar pledge over reducing tube fares by 7%, paid for out of a mysteriously unallocated £729m, money which TfL say isn’t there. Boris Johnson’s office were quick to point out further shortcomings of the EMA pledge:
“Ken Livingstone is at it again, making yet another un-costed, un-funded promise. He has already been forced to admit that if London’s councils don’t stump up the cash, City Hall will have to.”
While Lib Dem mayoral candidate Brian Paddick sang a similar tune:
“Ken Livingstone’s proposal speaks of getting London councils to help fund it, but how many have agreed to do this? And what happens to people in boroughs which won’t help in funding the proposal?”
In addition to the EMA and tube fares pledges, other pre-election promises from the former mayor include resigning if he doesn’t manage to cut fares, winding up the company which was the subject of Gilligan-at-the-Telegraph-led accusations of tax avoidance, taking a 5% pay cut, establishing a non-profit letting agency and campaigning for a London living rent, reducing our energy bills and taking over suburban rail services. Phew. Let’s hope he’s had three Shredded Wheat for breakfast.
Photo by bobaliciouslondon in the Londonist Flickr pool