Miles better! Bid to save on school taxis

PUBLISHED: 12:36 27 April 2007 | UPDATED: 22:46 28 May 2010

PARENTS of children eligible for free transport are being offered a 60 per cent pay rise to ferry their offspring to school to save money on taxis. Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to increase the mileage rate paid to parents from 25p to 40p a m

PARENTS of children eligible for free transport are being offered a 60 per cent "pay rise" to ferry their offspring to school to save money on taxis.

Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to increase the mileage rate paid to parents from 25p to 40p a mile in a bid to improve the take-up.

The new rate, to be paid from this month, would still ensure the county council saves money, says a report published this week.

"Although take-up is low, parental transport works well when there is no existing transport provision," says a report from the children and young people's services scrutiny committee.

"Even at this higher rate, savings would still be generated. For example, a parent would receive £8 per day if he/she lived five miles from the schools (four journeys) compared to the average £20 per day cost of a taxi."

The committee says parents can claim up to 10,000 miles a year before they have to start paying tax on their travel claims.

"Only parents transporting their children more than 52 miles per day would enter this bracket," says the report.

Increasing payments to parents is only one of the ideas under consideration. Another is to consider if "walking escorts" might be a possibility, whereby people are paid £5 an hour to walk a child to school.

This would constitute "a healthy, cost-effective solution to localised transport difficulties that would otherwise incur the cost of a taxi", states the report, adding: "It may prove a particularly helpful option for the children of disabled parents who are physically unable to accompany their child to school."

One problem would be that "walking escorts" would need to be employed by the council, and to have undergone an enhance CRB check, which could delay setting up the arrangements.

The council says this is unfortunate since "cases requiring a walking escort are temporary and need to be set up as quickly as possible".

Other schemes under consideration include extending the use of community transport, and the report notes the success of these in Fenland villages such as Wisbech St Mary, Parsons Drove and Manea.

Major changes to school transport are needed, says the report, particularly in the post-16 age group, and for disabled students.

In the past year, the council is predicting an overspend of £1million and throughout the summer officers will be working on a revised school transport policy.

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