Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Suffolk parents could pay more than £1,000 on school transport if plans approved





Financial pressures could see parents paying more than £1,000 for post-16 school transport if plans are approved by Suffolk County Council.

Members of the county’s cabinet are set to meet next Tuesday to discuss proposals to increase the price parents pay for post-16 school travel.

If approved, parents would have to pay £1,050 for a mainstream seat, up £90 from the current £960 price tag.

If plans are approved, parents would have to pay £1,050 for a mainstream seat. Picture: submitted
If plans are approved, parents would have to pay £1,050 for a mainstream seat. Picture: submitted

At the same time, the council would continue to charge £760 for post-16 travel for students with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

This would mean the council would, on average, subsidise mainstream seats by £741, and £11,039 for students with SEND — the subsidy is currently not a Government requirement.

Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for education and SEND, said: “We are not required to fund post-16 travel and do not receive any specific grants from central government to cover these costs.

If plans are approved, parents would have to pay £1,050 for a mainstream seat. Picture: submitted
If plans are approved, parents would have to pay £1,050 for a mainstream seat. Picture: submitted

“Despite this, we believe it is the right thing to do so that young people can get to their nearest sixth form or post-16 centre across the county.

“Unfortunately, with costs rising across the board, including post-16 travel, we’ve had to propose a nine per cent increase on the charge for a mainstream seat.

“However, on a positive note, I am happy to announce that we are continuing to propose a 50 per cent discounted charge for those families on low income and no increase for students with SEND.

“It is important we continue to support the most vulnerable in our community.”

In 2018, the council agreed to increase the charge by £90 for mainstream seats, and £30 for students with SEND, every year — although, due to the cost of living, the council agreed to suspend the hike in 2022/23 and increase it by £30 for all seats last year.

However, as a result of the council’s own financial struggles and the need to prioritise funding for statutory services, cabinet members are being asked to consider the increase.

For those students whose families have low incomes or are in receipt of free school meals, the council is proposing to continue a 50 per cent reduction, bringing the price tag to £525 and £390 for mainstream and SEND students respectively.

In Suffolk, the number of children eligible for free school meals is currently 26,507, a 66.4 per cent increase since March 2020.