Cabinet will consider changes to Home to School Transport and support services

Kirklees Council’s Cabinet members will be asked to consider changes to the Home to School Transport service, and to support and transport services for disabled children, adults and older people, at a meeting on 23 January 2018.

The proposed changes follow a public consultation that was carried out between 4 September and 22 October 2017.

What was consulted on?

Four services were consulted on:

  • The Access Fund (which helps children who have Special Educational Needs to take part in Early Years settings),
  • Social Care Transport,
  • Short Breaks (for children with SEND)
  • Home to School Transport.

The consultation has shown that all four services are valued by the people who use them. Some changes have been made to the original proposals in response to the consultation feedback.

What are the recommended changes?

Home to School Transport – One recommendation is to change the way that free Home to School Transport for mainstream schools is assessed.  The changes would follow Department for Education statutory guidance. This means that the nearest school geographically would be used to work out how far children need to travel to school, and whether children are entitled to a free bus pass, train pass or bus boarding card.

The law provides protection for families where pupils are entitled to free school meals, or if their parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credits.

There would be a separate policy for children with SEN or a disability, with more use of independent travel training to support pupils with using public transport where appropriate.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for Adults and Public Health, said:

“In many cases these are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. We’ve listened to the feedback and we have revised some of our proposals to reduce the impact on families. We know that the changes would affect some people who are using these services now, so we would aim to introduce these changes over time to help with that.

“Although we do need to find ways to make savings, we are also considering some changes that will have a positive impact for children and families. Enabling children with SEND to travel independently (instead of being driven round by parents or in a taxi) helps to support the child’s development, gives them important life skills, increases their confidence and also gives more flexibility to family members. We want to encourage more of this in the future.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their views so openly and honestly about these services and the impact that changes may have on their lives. We are also grateful to all the organisations who have supported local families to take part.”

The Access Fund – In the consultation, there was strong objection to proposals to restrict the Access Fund by linking it with only statutory hours for child care. Participants said this would badly affect those who are already vulnerable. In light of this, Cabinet are being asked to consider new proposals to invest in specialist outreach support, which would help to build the capacity of SEND provision across the district.

Social Care Transport – Other proposals include changes to Social Care Transport for adults and children. Cabinet will be asked to approve a new policy of making sure that other transport options have been fully explored with Social Care Transport users and their families before council-funded transport is offered.

Short Breaks – the proposal is that we will continue with overnight Short Breaks, and further develop after school services and provision for breaks provided in the community.