SEND faculty transport system ‘threatens councils’ monetary viability with out reform’

The particular academic wants and disabilities (SEND) faculty transport system should be reformed by the subsequent authorities or councils’ monetary viability will come below risk.

That’s in response to the County Councils Community (CCN), which has analysed information displaying that SEND transport prices have doubled for native authorities in county areas over the previous 5 years.

The information, compiled by the BBC, reveals that prices have risen from £727m in 2019 to £1.4bn in 2024 nationally, with county authorities now spending a mean of £9,800 per yr on every baby receiving SEND faculty transport.

The CCN stated a few of its member councils in county and rural areas have seen 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 in 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 growing use of particular person taxis on account of complexity of want, an absence of ample particular faculty locations, and parental expectations have contributed to each an increase in demand and value.

The BBC information confirmed that the typical council in England was now transporting 1,300 SEND pupils in 2023/24, up from 911 in 2018/19. The common value per SEND pupil utilizing transport has additionally elevated by 32%, from £6,280 to £8,299. However 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 risen extra sharply, by 44%, from £6,792 in 2018/19 to £9,750 this yr.

With out “substantial” further funding, the CCN stated reform ought to deal with introducing a nationwide means-testing coverage, “in order that households above a specified earnings threshold – set regionally however as much as a nationwide ceiling – are required to make a monetary contribution to house to high school transport”.

The following authorities should additionally reform the tribunal system, guarantee there may be sufficiency of particular faculty locations in native areas, whereas mainstream faculties needs to be assisted in accommodating extra SEND pupils, the CCN stated.

Tim Oliver, chairman of the County Councils Community, stated: “The system just isn’t working for folks and native authorities alike, with kids travelling lots of of miles yearly and prices doubling for county authorities since 2018. One thing has to offer to make sure it doesn’t threaten the monetary viability of councils and we’re capable of safeguard these very important companies.

“Due to this fact, 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.”


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