North Yorkshire County Council has been urged to recognise the cost of living crisis by abandoning proposals to charge some pupils up to £100 more for home to school transport from September and drop all charges to low income families.
The authority’s opposition leader, Councillor Stuart Parsons, said apply the authority’s plan to levy an 18 per cent increase over the next one or two academic years on children who do not attend their most local school was “completely unacceptable”.
A non-public meeting of leading officers and councillors on Tuesday will consider increasing the annual school transport charge for sixth-formers by 5.24 per cent, in line with inflation, to £650.
In addition, the meeting will consider charging £50 extra over two years or £100 more from September for any spare seats on buses available to children aged five to 16 who do not attend their most local school, bringing the annual bill to £650.
The meeting will hear while some councils offer low income families that can provide evidence of a means-tested benefit a 100 per cent school transport discount, it has been proposed the North Yorkshire authority continues to charge low income families 50 per cent of the fee.
A review of comparable largely rural councils to North Yorkshire found charges for post-16 school transport during the current year ranged from £50 to £1,007.
An officer’s report to the meeting states: “The charging arrangements are not intended to fully cover the cost of service delivery for the eligible young people, but rather to make a contribution towards the overall cost of transport. If the authority chose to change this arrangement, it would require a full
The council’s opposition leader, Councillor Stuart Parsons, said while the authority had recently trumpeted its proposed below inflation 3.99 per cent increase in its council tax demand it was also set to add “massive increases to transport costs to school”.
Calling on the council to drop the charges increase and exempt low income families from paying for school transport, he said many families were already struggling and would not be able to cope with the extra costs.
Coun Parsons said: “Where do they think people will find all this extra money? They are constantly talking about keeping young people in the area, upskilling people so it becomes a high wage economy, and with this they are basically putting a tax on obligatory education, and that’s completely unacceptable.
“It’s ludicrous as everyone’s talking about the cost of living crisis. This will make life more and more difficult for families that cannot afford all these increases. What they’re doing is pricing young people out of the education they’re entitled to.”
The authority’s executive member for education, Councillor Patrick Mulligan, has not responded to requests for a comment.