Councils name for reform of SEND faculty transport providers, as prices double for native authorities in county areas during the last 5 years

CCN Newest Information, CCN Information 2024 | 27 March 2024

Councils have referred to as on the subsequent authorities to reform the particular academic wants and disabilities (SEND) faculty transport system, with new information revealing prices have doubled to £800m for native authorities in county areas during the last 5 years.

The County Councils Community (CCN) argues that except the system is reformed and focused on those who want it essentially the most, it’s going to threaten the monetary viability of councils.  Evaluation of knowledge compiled by the BBC, launched at this time, exhibits that county authorities are spending a mean of £9,800 per yr on every little one receiving SEND faculty transport.

In accordance with the BBC information prices of SEND faculty transport have dramatically elevated from £727m in 2019 to £1.4bn in 2024 nationally, attributable to an explosion in demand and rising prices.

The councils in county and rural areas which might be members of the CCN have seen essentially the most dramatic improve in England, with prices doubling from £387m in 2018/19 to £790m in 2023/24.

A report produced by the CCN final November discovered this improve was largely pushed by a rise in pupils eligible for Training, Well being and Care Plans. These set out the extent of assist people are eligible to obtain, together with transport to high school. The variety of college students on these plans has greater than doubled nationally from 240,000 in 2015 to 517,000 in 2023.

That CCN evaluation additionally discovered that rising use of particular person taxis attributable to complexity of want, an absence of ample particular faculty locations, and parental expectations have contributed to each an increase in demand and price.

The BBC information, which was sourced by way of each Freedom of Info requests and use of presidency information for particular person councils, reinforces these tendencies.

It finds that the common council in England was now transporting 1,300 SEND pupils in 2023/24, up from 911 in 2018/19: a 43% improve. The common price per SEND pupil utilizing transport has additionally elevated 32%: from £6,280 to £8,299.

Nevertheless, these will increase are extra acute in county areas. County and rural councils transport double the quantity of SEND pupils on common (2,458), in comparison with the remainder of the nation, a forty five% improve in 2018/19’s common of 1,694 pupils per county and rural council.

The prices per pupil travelling in these areas have additionally rose extra sharply, from £6,792 in 2018/19 to £9,750 this yr: a 44% improve.

Earlier evaluation by CCN revealed that council expenditure on SEND journey is projected to rise even additional. Prices may rise nationally by 2027/28 to £2.2bn, with county areas liable for £1.1bn of that determine. The BBC information confirms that these projections are on the right track to be realised with out important adjustments in nationwide coverage and to the system.

Within the face of this, the CCN says that except the subsequent authorities supplies a considerable injection of funding, they need to set out complete reform to the system. Consideration must be given to the introduction of a nationwide means-testing coverage, in order that households above a specified revenue threshold – set regionally however as much as a nationwide ceiling – are required to make a monetary contribution to house to high school transport.

The subsequent authorities ought to guarantee there may be sufficiency of particular faculty locations in native areas, with the quantity created in the previous couple of years failing to maintain up with demand. This leaves some pupils having to journey dozens of miles every day, significantly in giant rural and county areas.

In tandem with this, mainstream colleges must be assisted in accommodating extra SEND pupils, by making certain they’ve the mandatory assist and situations to be taught in such settings.

With many particular person SEND circumstances reaching tribunals, the CCN recommends that the tribunal system should be reform to make sure circumstances aren’t dominated on till there may be full consideration of transport prices.

Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman of the County Councils Community, mentioned:

“Councils perceive how very important and transformative faculty transport providers are to 1000’s of households throughout the nation, they usually do their utmost to make sure each eligible little one receives a superb stage of service.

“However the system shouldn’t be working for fogeys and native authorities alike, with kids travelling a whole bunch of miles yearly and prices doubling for county authorities since 2018. One thing has to provide to make sure it doesn’t threaten the monetary viability of councils and we’re capable of safeguard these very important providers. Subsequently, except there may be substantial injection of funding, the subsequent authorities should set out a complete set of reforms to make sure the system is sustainable, incorporating the views of each households and councils.

“Alongside reforming the tribunal system, rising particular faculty locations, and inspiring extra mainstream faculty inclusion, CCN believes that we must always think about focusing on monetary assist for SEND journey providers on those who want it essentially the most by means of the introduction of a nationwide means-testing system.

“At a time of extreme monetary constraints, this may imply those that can least afford it are supplied with free transport, whereas sustaining a complete service for all of these requiring assist. We perceive that these reforms might be tough, however such is the dimensions of the problem they do warrant consideration.”

Notes to editor

  • The phrases county and rural unitary/county authorities/county areas used on this launch and the BBC evaluation refers back to the 21 county councils in England and the 17 unitary authorities in CCN membership. Non-rural unitary authorities refers to all remaining unitary authorities in England.
  • The principle supply of knowledge contained on this launch is predicated on BBC Freedom of Info requests to all native authorities in England. As well as, CCN labored with the BBC to supply further information from its member councils and offered Part 251 information (see right here) for chosen councils the place information for 2018/19 was lacking to make sure consistency within the comparative evaluation of whole spend for 2018/19 and 2023/24. CCN offered further evaluation by tier of native authorities. A breakdown of outcomes is offered under:
COUNCIL 2018/19 TOTAL SPEND 2023/24 TOTAL SPEND % Change
County & Rural Unitary 387,295,765 790,474,791 104.1
Non-Rural Unitary 88,147,720 179,090,264 103.2
Met Borough 115,676,645 225,353,218 94.8
London 140,677,594 229,293,368 63.0
England 731,797,725 1,424,211,641 94.6


  • The common improve within the variety of SEND pupils transported was calculated for every tier of native authorities utilizing solely these councils the place demand and expenditure information was obtainable for each 2018/19 and 2023/24. A breakdown of outcomes is offered under:


COUNCIL 2018/19 Common No. SEND CHILDREN 2023/24 Common No. SEND CHILDREN % change
County & Rural Unitary 1,694 2,458 45.1
Non-Rural Unitary 551 734 33.3
Met Borough 799 1,207 51.1
London 602 799 32.7
England 911 1,300 42.6


  • The common improve in price per SEND pupil utilizing transport was calculated for every tier of native authorities by dividing whole spend by the whole variety of these receiving transport utilizing solely these councils the place demand and expenditure information was obtainable for each 2018/19 and 2023/24.
COUNCIL 2018/19 Common spend per SEND Baby 2023/24 Common spend per SEND Baby % change
County & Rural Unitary 6,792 9,750 43.5
Non-Rural Unitary 4,559 6,016 32.0
Met Borough 5,337 7,123 33.5
London 8,433 10,310 22.3
England 6,280 8,299 32.2

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