Taxis for school children cost council almost £1m each year

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Taxis for school children cost the council almost £1 million last year, it has been revealed.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, Wakefield Council revealed that they had spent £977,298 on taxis to transport 662 children to and from school during the 2017/18 academic year. The projected spend for next academic year sees this figure rise to £986,836.

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Although the number of eligible pupils rose by just 10 percent between the 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years, spending on taxis rose more than 39 percent in the same period, from £700,645 the previous year.

Last year, 662 pupils were deemed eligible for assisted travel arrangements, meaning an average spend of £1,476 per child, up from an average of just £1,165 the year before.

Marium Haque, Service Director for Education and Inclusion at Wakefield Council, said: “It is a requirement for children with additional needs to receive appropriate support to get to and from school to access their education.

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“Like all local authorities we follow national guidelines. Our policy is published on our website and sets out in detail the eligibility criteria.”

Figures dating back to the 2014/15 academic year show that the average spend per child has risen by 8.2 percent in the last four years, which places the rise slightly above inflation.

Eligibility for assisted travel arrangements is determined by the Assisted Transport Panel and each application is decided on an individual basis.

Factors which may affect eligibility include special educational needs, disabilities, the mobility of the child or, for younger children, the mobility of a parent or carer.

Each child is offered a form of transport suitable for their individual needs, which can include a subsidised travel pass, mileage expenses for a parent or carer, independent travel training, a walking escort or the hire of a taxi or other contract specialist vehicle.