Changes to some school transport services across Leicestershire are set to be considered this week.
We are considering the result of a consultation on proposed changes to its special educational needs school (SEN) transport service and the home to school transport service.
We have listened to feedback from the public via a consultation, and if agreed, changes to the services, which are currently provided on a discretionary basis, would take place from September 2019.
The changes include:
- A 50 per cent reduction in the discount for low-income families who have children under the age of five requiring support with transport to nursery or for those using post-16 SEN transport;
- Stopping council arranged taxi and minibus provision to transport SEN students to post-16 education and providing direct financial support instead in the form of a Personal Transport Budget; and
- Stopping transport to post-16 education for eligible mainstream post 16 students and replacing it with an annual travel grant of £150 for those students who are rurally isolated or from a low income background.
Every pupil must have the chance to get to their school or nursery, but increasing budget pressures mean we need to reconsider how we can assist.
“We have listened to what the public have had to say and made changes on the back of this, such as scrapping the decision to get rid of a discounted rate entirely for low income families using nursery transport and post 16 SEN transport.Person:Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for highways
The changes have been put forward as SEN transport costs have increased from £6.5million in 2011/12 to £9.2million in 2016/17 – an increase of 42 per cent, with the costs expected to grow further by four or five per cent every year.
Councillor Pain added: “We need to focus on providing statutory services to those families who are in most need of support.
“If agreed, the changes would not be introduced until September 2019, which gives students and their families plenty of notice on their choice of school or college so that alternative arrangements can be made where necessary."
We do not have a statutory duty to provide home to school and college transport free of charge to students aged 16 to 19 in the same way we do for children aged between five and 16 years old.
The proposal will be discussed by the council's cabinet when it meets at 11am on Friday, 9 March.