Agenda item

Post 16 Transport Policy Statement

(To receive a report which invites the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee to consider the Executive Councillor report on the Post 16 Transport Policy Statement which is due to be considered by the Executive Councillor for Adult Care and Health services, Children's Services on 1 June 2016)


The Committee was invited to consider a report on the Post 16 Transport Policy Statement which was due to be considered by the Deputy Leader of the Council on 1 June 2016.


The Committee was advised that the Council provided subsidised transport for learners of sixth form age (extended to age 21 or 25 for learners with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities (LDDs)) to a school sixth form, college of further education or other approved setting.  The cost to the authority of providing this transport was over £2.8m per year (2015/16 forecast), and the authority recovered a proportion of the cost through the charge to parents or students, which is currently £418 per annum (£423 per annum if paid in instalments).


Transport was provided as the Council had a duty to "ensure access" to further education and training opportunities (DFE Guidance on Post 16 Transport to Education and Training, February 2014).


The report considered by the Committee set out the Council's proposed Post 16 Transport Policy Statement as required by section 509AA of the Education Act 1996.  The statement continued the provision of previous years, but included an increase in the charge for Post 16 Transport to £500 from September 2016 to July 2017 and £570 from September 2017 to July 2018.  It was noted that the proposed charge was subject to a survey consultation carried out between 22 February and 19 March 2016.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions to the officers present in relation to the information contained within the report and some of the points raised during discussion included the following:

·         Concerns were raised regarding families who were in financial difficulty, as the charge had increased by 20% but it was thought it was unlikely that bursaries given to schools would have increased by a similar amount.

·         There was a suggestion that schools and colleges that received bursaries would need to shift their priorities to help those families which struggled to pay for transport.

·         There were also concerns regarding those families who may be on middle incomes, but had more than one child to support.

·         It was queried whether there was any analysis of how schools used their bursaries, and what the take up rate was.  However, members were advised that this information was not freely available, but it was for the school or college to decide how to use the bursaries.  It was also noted that schools and colleges were required to display what assistance was available on their website.

·         It was commented that a lot of the funding that used to come to the county council, now went straight to the schools and colleges.

·         In a recent spending priorities consultation which was carried out by the County Council, spending on Post 16 transport was not identified as a priority by the majority of respondents, however, it was commented that it would be a priority for those families with children in post 16 education.

·         It was commented that the Council was now in a position where it was starting to cut essential services, and it was acknowledged that the increase in the charge for post 16 transport would be a problem for some families, but the authority should work with the schools and colleges and encourage them to use their bursaries to help these students to access post 16 education.  When considering the bigger picture, it was suggested that the increase in charge had to be supported.

·         It was clarified that the charge only allowed for transport provision to school and colleges during term time.  If students wished to attend during school holidays they would be required to make their own arrangements for transport. 

·         For those families who were partially on benefits, members were advised that there was a hardship scheme, and if evidence could be produced, the three instalments could be broken down into a further 3 payments, meaning that it could be paid for in 6 instalments.  It was noted that officers were working with Agresso to implement a direct debit scheme which would mean it could be broken down into 10 monthly payments.

·         An issue was raised regarding the free transport being to the nearest school or college, and it was suggested that as provision was now so much wider, it was unlikely that the nearest school or college would provide the right course.  Members were advised that opening up the policy to allow for this would have a cost implication. It was also suggested that students not being able to access the right course was a significant factor in drop-out rates at post 16 level.

·         Members were reminded that during the budget setting process, if they did not want to make savings in this area by increasing the charge for post 16 transport, there would be a need to take money from somewhere else in the Children's Services budget.  None of the decisions which needed to be taken were easy, but the Council was now in a difficult position.  The aim was to provide an acceptable and reasonable service for the people of Lincolnshire with the funding which was available.

·         The drop-out rate at age 17 was a key issue, and one of the concerns around this was whether the careers advice provided in schools was signposting children to the most appropriate course.

·         It was queried how many children would be affected by this increase in charge and whether there was any indication of a likely increase in the drop-out rate.  Members were advised that an impact assessment was included with the report which focused on the authority's statutory duty.  It would be very difficult to know what the wider impact would be.  However, officers were able to monitor the take up by SEN.  It was noted that take up by SEN remained high and officers would continue to measure the impact on those pupils with disabilities.  It was also reported that NEET figures were monitored and strategies could be put in place to address and increase.

·         It was commented that the survey consultation had shown overwhelming opposition to the increase in charge, and it was queried whether this had been taken into account.  Members were advised that these responses had helped to inform the EIA, and helped officers to understand the potential impact it could have some on some families.  However, it was noted that the increased charge was still very competitive when compared to a commercial rate, and Lincolnshire was ranked in the middle when compared to other authorities with a charging structure.

·         It was clarified that young people were not required to stay on at school until the age of age of 18, as participation in apprenticeship schemes would also be recognised, and it was queried whether the government had been asked to address the disparity in relation to funding for transport.

·         It was requested that officers write to government on behalf of the Committee to highlight the issue of funding for post 16 transport.




1.    That the Committee supports the recommendations to the Deputy Leader of the Council, as set out in the report.

2.    That the comments detailed above be passed to the Deputy Leader of the Council

3.    That officers write to government on behalf of the Committee to highlight the need for additional support for post 16 transport.


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