Dispute as to whether taxpayers should prop up Perfomers College students

At the full meeting of Thurrock Council on Thursday, local Conservatives called for reform of the Dance and Drama Awards (DaDA) scheme and protection for students currently receiving the grants.

Cllr Phil Anderson said:

“The current DaDA scheme is flawed for several reasons:

· It is open to students from anywhere in the European Union, which means that the British taxpayer is expected to foot the bill for training overseas students at private colleges in the UK;
· It is awarded “regardless of household income”, which sounds commendable but in fact means that some students from wealthy backgrounds are being subsidised through taxes paid by ordinary working families.

We cannot carry on like this, but it is very important that students currently in the middle of their studies are protected during the transition. They started their courses in good faith based on the rules as they existed at the time, and it would be wrong to remove this support half way through when they have already invested so much effort and commitment into pursuing their chosen career.”

Cllr James Halden added:

“The Coalition Government has already shown that we can push through successful reform in these areas. The controversial Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been scrapped and replaced with a £165M fund paid direct to schools and colleges. This ends the scandal of ‘state funded pocket money’ while ensuring that poorer students will not be excluded from education because they cannot afford essentials like travel and study materials.”

The Labour Group had put a motion demanding that the DaDA scheme continue in its current form. Cllr Anderson suggested an alternative wording, calling for reform of DaDA while protecting students who had already started their courses. Unfortunately the time for debate ran out before the Conservative amendment could be voted on.

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