The council’s Cabinet met to go through the results of a consultation with parents, schools and the public after initial proposals were put on the table. Information was sent to 1,000 people potentially affected.
This year there is a projected £1.071m overspend on transport, whilst £11.2million has been cut from the overall budget.
The agreed changes mean:
The council will invest in support to help SEND (special education needs and disabilities) young people learn how to travel confidently where possible helping prepare them for employment or further training.
The council will ask for a contribution of up to £510 per year for young people aged 16-19 who use local authority transport to get to school or college. This fee will be reduced for families with a lower income. The average cost of transport is £4,500 per year and in some cases, individual travel arrangements can be as much as £25,000 per year. This contribution to council finance ensures those with the highest need will continue to receive support,
Those who require high levels of support to get to post 16 education or college will be offered a personal budget to support travel arrangements.
Children from families who live further than the statutory walking distance away from school will be given free bus passes instead of receiving reimbursement (all SEN children aged between 5 and 16 years old qualify for free bus passes).
The Cabinet has required that each application will be assessed on an individual basis and satisfied that concerns raised through the consultation have been taken seriously. Transport support for the most vulnerable residents will continue to be provided and in line with the council’s statutory duties.
Following an extensive consultation, the council dropped a proposal to introduce a contribution for (SEN) transport for children under five years old with special educational needs (SEN) attending specialist provision. The decision was made after responses and feedback from the public. Where local authority transport is provided, this continues to be free of charge.
These proposals have been agreed after a projected £1.071m overspend on transport in a year that has seen a further £11.2million cut from the overall budget.
Charlotte Ramsden, Strategic Director for People at Salford City Council, said:
“Salford was one of the few councils in Greater Manchester who offered fully-funded travel budgets for children with SEN. But with our budget situation, we have reluctantly agreed to review the transport so we can support those with the highest needs.
“It is a decision we do not want to make. But with our budget cuts, having lost £198million since 2010 – or £60,000 each and every day, we have to make changes.
“After going through the 47 responses to the consultation we will now ask parents of students aged 16-19 to make a contribution towards the cost of local authority transport, bringing us in line with other local authorities. Obviously not everybody will be able to afford this so we will work with each family to make sure no one is left without the means to fund travel costs.
“It is important to note, no SEN children aged between five and 16 years old who receive transport assistance are affected by the changes – their transport is free.”