Council chiefs want Hyndburn favoured over education support grants for struggling students.

The council has written to business minister John Hayes, calling for areas with deprivation – including Hyndburn to benefit disproportionately from a Learners' Support Fund provided to post-16 colleges.

Currently 350 students from Hyndburn receive Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) averaging over £1,000 a year to attend Accrington and Rossendale College. There are more attending other local school sixth forms and colleges.

Principal Stephen Carlisle is worried that a number will be unable to continue without financial help.

The council's move comes after Hyndburn MP Graham Jones spoke in the House of Commons on January 21 about the vital role played by the EMA.

Council leader Peter Britcliffe told Tuesday's Cabinet meeting: “EMAs ain't coming back. But we don't want to see the government share out the learners' support fund equally through the country so that a college in leafy Kent is earning the same as a college in downtown Accrington.”

In 2008/09 Accrington and Rossendale College received £842,400 of EMA which was given out to 823 students. That works out at £1,024 per student.

In his letter to Mr Hayes, Coun Britcliffe writes: “Hyndburn Borough Council has recently been reviewing the impact of the decision to scrap Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) and I am concerned about the negative impact on current and future further education students in Hyndburn.

“It is clear that the introduction of EMA has led to increased participation and very high success rates and this has benefitted the borough.

“In an area such as Hyndburn, with significant deprivation, I believe that the removal of EMAs will have a disproportionate effect on students' ability to enter further education as we have a larger number of EMA recipients (well over 50 per cent) and the income it provides for students and their families is much needed.

“I realise that EMAs have now been ended for new students and are being phased out for existing ones. However, I would encourage you to seek to try to increase the proposed Learner Support Fund which will go directly to further education providers to help support students who need financial support.”