North Yorkshire County Council has decided to consult on proposals to change post-16 home to school or college transport assistance to reduce costs.
The authority has committed to saving £92m in the four years ending on 31 March, 2015 and has warned that following recent announcements by the Government over future funding, it will need to find a further estimated £77m between 2015 and 2019.
They have said it is inevitable that the nature of services and the way they are delivered will continue to change and the county council is therefore consulting widely on proposals.
In July members of the county council approved public consultations on a range of proposals designed to meet the new savings target. They include a proposal to reduce the post-16 transport budget by £400k.
Currently the county council provides transport assistance to 1800 post-16 students to enable them to access further education courses at the nearest or appropriate school or college. Transport is currently provided to 31 colleges and 36 schools.
Most students are currently required to contribute £360 per year towards their travel costs which are subsidised by the council. Under proposed changes this cost will increase to £480 per year from September 2014.
This will achieve savings of around £200,000 – half of the required amount. It is hoped that a further £200,000 can be saved by working with schools and colleges to create and contribute to local post-16 transport arrangements.
These arrangements could be administered through the schools and colleges 16-19 Bursary Fund which allocates money to young people who need financial support to stay on in further education or training. This includes support with transport costs.
County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for post-16 education said:
The county council is having to make massive savings and is therefore faced with very difficult decisions and choices about where savings can be made. But the authority is also looking at ways services can be delivered differently.
The education and training of our young people is a priority and therefore we hope to work with schools and colleges so that post-16 transport assistance can be managed locally in the longer term. We believe this may be a more cost-effective way of ensuring that all of our young people post-16 are able to access the necessary education and training provision.