AN MP has called for the reintroduction of payments to help keep youngsters in education.

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce made the call following a report by the University and College Union.

It showed 10.8 per cent of people old enough to work in her constituency, along with Bexleyheath and Crayford, have no qualifications.

Ms Pearce used the figures to slam the Government’s decision to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) grants for poor 16 to 19-year -olds in England, replacing them with a bursary fund.

Ms Pearce said: “I believe local people need more help to stay in the education system, not less, and that’s why the Government’s decision to scrap EMA and replace it with a much smaller fund is so wrong.

“I fear it will mean even fewer constituents will be able to stay on in school and get the qualifications that will help them get good jobs.”

An Education Select Committee has also been critical of the way the changes were made.

Principal at Bexley College Danny Ridgeway recently said the £86,640 it had been allotted under the new system was “totally inadequate”.

The Department for Education says it will carry out a consultation on the funding changes.