Free disabled transport gets the axe

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DISABLED youngsters are to be charged for the first time for their transport to college, despite concerns it will stop them attending.

Hull Council’s Cabinet decided yesterday to start charging students in the city, aged 16 to 18, £300 for travel to school or sixth form college, as part of efforts to save £48m savings in the next two years.

Around 180 students, the vast majority of whom have with a learning difficulty or disability, will be affected.

Vanessa Harvey-Samuel, City Manager for Learning and Skills, said: “The council is not under an obligation to provide this transport free of charge but recognises an obligation to ensure that travel is not an unfair barrier to education or training. The contribution will be the equivalent of the amount a young person might have to pay if travelling by public transport in the city. The remainder of the cost, still a very significant sum, will continue to be met by the council”.

But Pat Stange, from Hull Council of Disabled People, said: “My reaction is that there’s going to be people who are not going to attend as their parents will not pay these charges. There are other things disabled people need that are more pressing than paying that money, like special diets and wheelchairs.”

A spokesman for Choices and Rights Disability Coalition said: “We don’t expect everything for free, but we do expect equality. We would expect Hull Council to make reasonable adjustment for disabled children who have more difficulty to access education. It is possible that some people who are losing out financially if they are on direct payments may be able to have a reassessment.”

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