Millions of pounds spent on transporting children to and from school by Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said currently more than £8m a year is sp

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said currently more than £8m a year is spent on getting children to and from school. - Credit: Archant

It costs more than £8 million a year to transport children to and from school in Cambridgeshire, council bosses have revealed.

The figures, from the County Councils Network (CCN), also show that Cambridgeshire County Council spend £114 per head on home to school transport.

That is ‘significantly more’ than neighbouring urban regional councils such as Luton – which is as low as £15.

It comes as England’s rural councils warn it is becoming ‘increasingly difficult’ to continue to fund free school transport for pupils because they pay a ‘rural premium’.

New analysis show that for county councils, the average costs per head for home to school transport – which is free buses, taxis, and other transport for eligible pupils – is £93 per child, compared to £10 per child in cities and towns.

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County leaders warn they will have to continue reducing services - with thousands of pupils no longer receiving school transport – unless government recognises the higher costs of services in rural areas and funds those councils adequately.

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The legislation governing home to school transport has remained largely unchanged for over 70 years and as part of our #Fairdeal4Cambs campaign we are pressing for a review.

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“Cambridgeshire, predominantly rural in nature, currently spends more than £8m a year on getting children to and from school.”

Officials say that figures in Cambridgeshire are high due to the higher numbers of pupils who are eligible for free transport in rural areas compared to urban ones, because of longer distances travelled and availability of routes.

In total, 29 out of 36 county councils reduced their expenditure on home to school transport between 2014 and 2017.

Ian Hudspeth, County Councils Network spokesman for education and children’s services and leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“We very much support the direction of travel laid out by government, but the rhetoric must be backed up with real, tangible change to the way councils are funded, with the recognition of the increased costs of delivering services in rural settings. We will continue to work with Ministers to ensure that the new formula funds councils in based on what they genuinely need to provide vital local services such as school transport.”

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