Leeds Council could axe ‘financially unsustainable’ £4.5m a year travel costs for SEND students

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A consultation will be launched on school transport for over 16s with special needs as the council seeks to cut costs.

Leeds City Council will review its provision of discretionary travel help for teenagers with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

The authority said the current system may not be affordable after the number of post-16 SEND students using the service doubled since 2015.

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Around 815 over 16s currently use the service, at a cost of up to £4.5m per year.

Leeds Civic Hall .Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 20th March 2024Leeds Civic Hall .Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 20th March 2024
Leeds Civic Hall .Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 20th March 2024

A council report said the authority had a legal duty to provide transport for eligible pupils of compulsory school age.

There was no obligation to provide transport for older students, but the council was providing assistance for some post-16 SEND learners.

Alternatives could include more youngsters getting Independent Travel Training to give them more confidence in using public transport.

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The report said: “The current model of provision of assistance can often be restrictive and limiting for families who have transport arrangements decided for them.

“It is also financially unsustainable for the council.”

Leeds City Council’s Executive Board agreed to press ahead with a four-week public consultation on the plans at a meeting on Wednesday (June 19).

The report said any changes to discretionary travel assistance would be phased in to apply to new applications for the 2025/26 academic year.

The report said: “The consultation will centre on a range of options to examine the likely impact on young people and families.

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“It will also seek to examine any possible impact on other services, for example Adult Social Care transport.

“These findings will be considered in the preparation of any proposed new transport offer.”

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