Cornwall Council has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to a subsidised transport scheme that helps young people aged 16-19 access their education.
This applies to any young person who meets the eligibility criteria, including living at least three miles from the nearest school or college offering their chosen course and needs transport to attend. (See ‘notes to editors’ section below for more detail).
The required payment contribution from parents or carers for the 2022/23 academic year was £540 per student, which is considerably lower than many other local authorities.
During this time the Council spent more than £4.4m providing post-16 transport for approximately 1,000 students, equating to an average cost of £4,400 per student.
The Council has kept the required contribution low when compared to other local authorities, some of which charge annual fees of up to £1,300 while others don’t offer a scheme.
Unfortunately, this is no longer sustainable as the demand for, and cost of, providing services across the Council continue to rise.
To ensure the subsidised post-16 transport scheme can continue, it is therefore being proposed that the contribution made by parents or carers should be increased to £700, rising in line with inflation each year after that. This is to cover increased costs of the scheme due to inflation while keeping the contribution as low as possible.
The Council is asking current and prospective users of the scheme to have their say on the proposals. People can take part in the consultation by visiting https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/home-to-school-transport-post-16 It will remain open for three weeks from Wednesday, March 22.
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, portfolio holder for children and families, said:
“We want to support young people to access post-16 education, which is why we have met the vast majority of the cost of providing transport up until now. However, with the current financial pressures we have to look at the services that we are not legally required to provide.
“That said, we do not intend to withdraw support and this consultation is to find out if parents and carers can contribute more and what the impact will be.
“I would like to stress that this is not a done deal; we will listen to people’s views and take these into account when making a final decision.”
Cllr Connor Donnithorne, portfolio holder for transport, said:
“Making Cornwall a brilliant place to grow up is one of our main priorities at the Council, and this includes ensuring that children and young people can access their school or college wherever they live. As the Portfolio Holder for Transport, I want to ensure that transport can enable this and supports every student in Cornwall with their journey to education.
“We already work closely with bus operators and the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide a range of affordable transport options for students, such as our subsidised bus fares funded by our nationally recognised Bus Fare Pilot, in place until April 2026.
“The purpose of this consultation is to ensure that another of our offers – the post-16 travel scheme – can continue. We have managed to keep the level of parental contribution very low for some time but unfortunately, given the ongoing financial pressures faced by the Council and all local authorities, we now need to increase this contribution if we want to keep the scheme going in its current form.
“I would urge anyone who is affected by this, either now or in the future, to let us know what they think about this, and how it might impact on them.”
Notes to editors:
The Post-16 Home to School Transport Scheme applies to pupils aged 16-19 who live more than three miles from their place of education. They only qualify if they attend the closest establishment offering their chosen programme of study and the scheme is also extended to 19-25 year olds with EHCPs, continuing their programme of study. For more information visit www.cornwall.gov.uk/schooltransport
The Council does not have a legal duty to provide free or subsidised transport for young people aged 16-19. However, it has a duty to prepare and publish an annual policy statement specifying the arrangements for the provision of travel or other support that it considers necessary in order to facilitate the attendance of all persons of sixth form age (16-19) receiving education or training. In Cornwall, the Council has chosen to provide a subsidised transport for students aged between 16 and 19 to access Post-16 education and training in order to facilitate access.
The Council is working closely with bus operators, and the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide a range of affordable transport options for students, such as our subsidised bus fares funded by our nationally recognised Bus Fare Pilot, in place until April 2026. In most cases, tickets and fares are available at a lower cost than bus passes provided through the Council’s Post 16 Transport scheme. In addition, eligible students can also apply for the 16-19 Bursary Fund provided by Central Government to support 16-19 year olds with the cost of staying in education or training.
Press release issued on March 22, 2023.