Cabinet To Consider Home to School Transport Consultation
Cabinet will next week consider the feedback received from its recent consultation around proposals to amend the Council’s Home to School Transport arrangements.
The Council currently provides one of the most generous Home to School Transport services in Wales and, as it seeks to address a total budget gap of over £42m over the next two years, Cabinet recently consulted for eight weeks around the future level of this service.
A report for consideration by Cabinet will detail the range of options around the discretionary elements of the Council’s Home to School Transport provision, an Equality Impact Assessment and the findings of the feedback received through the consultation.
County Borough Councillor Keiron Montague, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said:
“As a result of the drastic cuts to funding we anticipate facing over the next five years, we have recently consulted upon potential changes to the discretionary elements of our current Home to School Transport provision, for which the Council provides a significant subsidy.
“The Welsh Government Learner Travel Measure requires local authorities to provide Home to School Transport for pupils residing over 2 miles from their nearest suitable primary school and 3 miles from their nearest suitable secondary school.
“There is no statutory requirement to provide transport to pupils who are not in compulsory education; i.e. pre-school, post-16 learners or those who attend voluntary aided (Faith schools, where that school is not the pupil’s nearest suitable school. Under the Measure the Council must also promote access to Welsh Medium education.
“We currently provide one of the most generous Home to School Transport services in Wales.
“Transport is currently provided free for any child who lives further than 1 ½ miles from their nearest suitable primary school and 2 miles from their nearest suitable secondary school. In the same manner, transport is also provided for free for pre-school and for post 16 learners.
“The proposals which Cabinet agreed to consult upon propose reducing the level of subsidy by introducing a charge towards the discretionary elements of the service the Council currently provides, rather than a proposal which would see the withdrawal of routes and buses that provide discretionary elements of transport; an approach many other Councils in Wales have adopted.
“Cabinet will need to give careful consideration to the proposal as this option would mean that even in these difficult times we would still be providing a significant subsidy for this service. However difficult this decision and the need for us to find vital savings, we will want to find a solution which best fits the needs of RCT.
“The Cabinet will consider the detail of the responses received from the public through the consultation together with an Equality Impact Assessment before making a final decision on this matter.
“When difficult decisions have reluctantly been made previously, substantial amendments have been made as a result of the feedback we receive from residents.
“However it is important to emphasise that any savings not made in this area would consequently need to be found from other areas.
“We currently spend over £10m per annum delivering home to school transport for young people across the county.
“Based on the guidance within the Learner Travel Measure, over £4 Million of this expenditure is classified as discretionary and this is why we have consulted upon this service area. Faced with the difficult task of addressing a significant budget gap into the medium term as a result of continued UK government cuts to public spending, we therefore have had to review and consider this service.
“Nothing is set in stone in terms of this proposal and Cabinet will reflect upon the detailed and constructive feedback we have received before making our decision.”
Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 8th September at 2pm to discuss this proposal. View the agenda and reports for the meeting.