Post-16 travel subsidy is facing the axe next year

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

Current travel arrangements for Suffolk teenagers in education are set to continue for another year – but discounted and subsidised services could be axed from September 2019.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet will meet next week to decide whether its post-16 travel policy for those at college or sixth form should continue for another year from this September.

No changes are set to be made on the existing policy, which helps subsidise travel to the nearest sixth form or college for those living three miles away or more.

But as part of a consultation carried out at the same time as the school transport discussions, such subsidies could be cut from September 2019.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children's services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: 'The objective of the post-16 travel policy statement is to help pupils of sixth form age access the education and training of their choice and assess where support is required.

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'This policy statement is the result of a statutory consultation that Suffolk County Council is required to run every year along will all other local authorities.

'I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who participated in the consultation.'

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While next year's travel policy looks likely to remain the same, changes for school transport and post-16 travel from September 2019 is set to be decided next month.

The council's consultation said that millions of pounds were needed in savings across the authority, including in post-16 transport.

Options include cutting the discretionary free transport entirely all at once, making the cuts in phases, or making no changes at all and instead making savings from other council services.

Education spokesman for the county council's opposition Labour group, Jack Abbott, said that it would penalise low income families most.

'Suffolk is a largely rural county and the existing further education provision is patchy at best – accessibility to suitable courses can be a major barrier to families in rural areas,' he said.

'The post-16 transport policy being proposed will only compound this issue, as it is likely to increase the number of young people paying towards their educational transport needs, forcing them down one route, when an alternative option is more appropriate.'

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