North Yorkshire is considering changes to home-to-school transport charges for post-16 students.
The County Council spends more on home-to-school transport than any other county in England - due to the sparse nature of some communities and the long distances some students travel to school or college – yet North Yorkshire’s fees are among the lowest in the country.
The current contribution fee of £490 by families towards post-16 home-to-school transport has not been raised for two years, and at that point is was a marginal increase of £10. The majority of County Councils are currently charging in the region of £600 to £700. If there was to be no increase again this year there would be additional pressure on the budget.
Currently North Yorkshire spends £24.1m on home-to-school transport, an overspend of nearly £2.5m. Up to £2.8 million is spent on post-16 transport provision with the council currently receiving about one sixth of that (£0.5m) in contribution fees.
Councils are required to review home-to-school transport charges every May. North Yorkshire’s Children and Young People’s Service Executive will therefore decide this week (Tuesday, 21 May) whether or not to raise the fee to bring it more in line with charges by other councils.
Council funding for post-16 transport is discretionary, but North Yorkshire has always subsidised the cost as an important service to families. Many live in rural locations and travel to the nearest school or college for post-16 provision can be over longer distances than in many other councils.
“Post-16 transport will continue to be heavily subsidised and low income families will continue to receive a 50 per cent discount”, said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills.
“The current cost per year to the council per student is from £900 for a place on a bus, to £30,000 for specialist provision with passenger assistance. What North Yorkshire charges is a fraction of that.
“We understand cost pressures on families which is why we have held the travel fee for post-16 students for a number of years, and we continue to support the provision of post-16 education throughout the county and work with our schools and communities to ensure high quality teaching and learning and training. But the competing demands on our overall budget are very great and we must consider all the options very carefully.”
The options to be decided by the Children and Young People’s Executive next week will be:
- Increase the contribution to the national bus average of £5 per day - based on post-16 students attending three days a week for up to 38 weeks this would increase the rate to £570 per annum;
- Increase the fee to £600 per annum
- Increase the fee to the average county council fee of £650 per annum
- No increase to the contribution rate
The agreed option will be implemented from 1st June 2019, for the start of the 2019/2020 academic year.