Parents of over 16s may soon have to pay £700 to get them to college
Parents with teenagers attending school over the age of 16 may soon be asked to pay £700 towards getting them there.
Cornwall Council is proposing to increase the cost of transport from £540 to £700 – a rise of 30%.
The council provides a subsidised transport scheme for teenagers aged 16-19 if they fall within certain criteria, including living at least three miles from the nearest school or college that offers their chosen course.
It said the current payment of £540 from parents or carers towards funding this cost was “considerably lower than many other local authorities.”
In the 2022/23 academic year the council spent more than £4.4million providing post-16 transport for approximately 1,000 students, equating to an average cost of £4,400 per student.
A council spokesperson said: “The council has kept the required contribution low when compared to other local authorities, some of which charge annual fees of up to £1,300 while others don’t offer a scheme.
“Unfortunately, this is no longer sustainable as the demand for, and cost of, providing services across the council continue to rise.”
It has now launched a consultation on raising the contribution from parents and carers to £700, and then rising in line with inflation each year after that.
People can take part in the consultation by visiting https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/home-to-school-transport-post-16
The survey will remain open for three weeks from today (Wednesday, March 22).
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, portfolio holder for children and families, said: “We want to support young people to access post-16 education, which is why we have met the vast majority of the cost of providing transport up until now. However, with the current financial pressures we have to look at the services that we are not legally required to provide.
"That said, we do not intend to withdraw support and this consultation is to find out if parents and carers can contribute more and what the impact will be.
“I would like to stress that this is not a done deal; we will listen to people’s views and take these into account when making a final decision.”
The Post-16 Home to School Transport Scheme applies to pupils aged 16-19 who live more than three miles from their place of education.
They only qualify if they attend the closest school or college offering their course, and the scheme is also extended to 19 to 25-year-olds with an education, health and care plan (EHCP).
The council said it does not have a legal duty to provide free or subsidised transport for young people aged 16 to 19, but does have a duty to publish an annual policy statement on what arrangements are needed to ensure everyone of sixth-form age is able to receive education or training.
Eligible students can apply for the 16-19 Bursary Fund provided by Central Government, to support them with the cost of staying in education or training.