Wiltshire Council looks to cut subsidies for school transport
A consultation is being launched following government changes to education which has increased the number of young people requiring college and school transport in Wiltshire.
All young people up to 18 are now required to be in some form of education or training increasing the numbers of students needing school and college transport across the county.
Wiltshire Council currently subsidises post-16 students’ transport costs although there is no legal requirement to do so.
The subsidies are made as the council recognises in a mainly rural county affordable transport is important to help students attend school or college. The council subsidises the bill for those students attending a college further than three miles away from their home.
The average cost to provide post-16 transport is £843 per student per year. Under the proposals, students will be asked to pay £625 a year up from the current £446.
Additionally Wiltshire Council funds transport for children aged 11 to 18 attending grammar schools in Salisbury who live more than three miles from the school.
Now a consultation is being launched on proposed changes to make savings on the post-16 and grammar school transport costs.
The council faces significant financial pressures with reduced funding from central government, increased service demand and inflation and these pressures are likely to increase.
Savings need to be made to help deliver the council’s priorities of protecting vulnerable people, boosting the local economy and bringing communities together.
There will be no increase in transport charges for low income families where the cost will remain at £156 a year. The charges will also not increase for those students with special educational needs who pay either £156 or £446 a year currently.
It is also proposed the council will continue to arrange transport for students attending the grammar schools in Salisbury but families will be asked to pay for the transport to bring the city in line with other parts of Wiltshire where families have always paid for children attending schools out of the designated area. Currently there are 555 grammar school pupils who receive this free transport at a cost of £366,000.
The proposals also include ceasing new applications for “continuity transport” where a child moves to a different area but the transport to their previous school is paid for by the council. Those already receiving “continuity transport” will continue.
Wiltshire Council has a £7.8m bill for home to school transport for 10,000 pupils and students. There are 1,800 students aged 16 or over travelling to school sixth form or further education college who live more than three miles from their place of learning whose transport costs are subsidised.
The consultation is now available at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/council/consultations.htm and people are invited to give their views until 12 noon on October 19.