Post-16 Transport Policy Statement 2024/25

Last updated: 11 June 2024

6. Travel assistance available for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities aged 16-19

Eligible students with SEND aged 16-19 need to reapply for travel assistance each academic year. The Council will write to eligible students/their families during the summer term with details of how to reapply for the next academic year. Students who have been assessed and are eligible for travel assistance will be allocated transport or travel assistance appropriate to their assessed needs. This may be specialised if they require equipment to enable them to be transported.

Families of students who are eligible for travel assistance have a choice on how this is arranged. Families can either apply for a Personal Transport Budget which allows them to arrange transport for the student themselves, or they can apply for transport arranged by the Council for an annual fee. The applicable fees are set out on our website.

6.1 Personal Transport Budgets

A Personal Transport Budget allows young people and their families to have the freedom and flexibility to make their own travel arrangements, rather than travelling on transport organised by the Council. A Personal Transport Budget is awarded at the Council’s discretion. It is a sum of money to support the student to travel from home to their school or educational setting. A Personal Transport Budget is not a short-term alternative while a transport application is being processed.

A Personal Transport Budget could be used in many ways, including:

  • to pay for fuel and/or running costs on a family vehicle that is used to transport a student to school/educational setting
  • lease a vehicle if the family don’t have one
  • paying for a shared taxi with other pupils or students
  • paying for another person to take a sibling to school to free a parent/carer up to transport the student with SEND
  • buying travel passes for other children in the family so that they can travel to and from school, allowing the parent/carer to transport the student with SEND
  • paying for childcare for another child to allow a parent/carer to take the student with SEND to school/educational setting
  • working with the school to join up transport options with other parents (e.g. car share), encouraging a sense of community

All eligible students for whom a Personal Transport Budget request is made will have their application assessed. We will take into consideration any cost to the Council of arranging the transport and will make a best value assessment based on the cost of council arranged transport as well as the specific needs of the student.

A Personal Transport Budget is paid on the assumption that students attend a full-time programme of learning that is at least 540 guided learning (planned and funded) hours per year. If a student receives a Personal Transport Budget part way through the school year, or attends education on a part-time basis, the total payment is on a pro rata basis to account for the reduced amount of time that a parent/carer would be responsible for transport arrangements.

Conditions of use for Personal Transport Budgets

If a parent/carer uses the Personal Transport Budget to employ someone (e.g. for childcare), then they will be responsible for complying with relevant rules regarding Tax and National Insurance, Employment Law, Insurance, Health and Safety or any other relevant rules or legislation in force at that time. In addition, the parent/carer would be responsible for carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on anyone that they employ.

Similarly, if a parent/carer uses the Personal Transport Budget to enter into contracts with organisations e.g. after school/extra-curricular clubs, or individuals, the parent/carer would be responsible for complying with the terms and conditions of those contracts. This may include payment arrangements or notice of cancellation.

Personal Transport Budgets cannot be used in the following circumstances:

  • to buy or utilise space on transport services from the Council
  • for any purpose that does not enable the student to travel to/from the school/educational setting
  • to travel to activities other than the educational setting, for example work experience
  • for any activity that is illegal, unlawful, or unsafe
  • for other purposes that may bring the Council into disrepute

To apply for a Personal Transport Budget the student will need to:

  • live within the area where Buckinghamshire is the local council
  • have an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • attend the school/s or education setting/s outlined in the Education, Health and Care Plan
  • comply with the eligibility criteria described in section 5

All children with an Education, Health and Care plan in the same family would be considered when agreeing the amount awarded via a Personal Transport Budget. There may be some circumstances where it is appropriate for a family to have one child travelling on Post-16 SEND Council arranged transport (and paying an annual fee), while another child has a Personal Transport Budget. Where this is an appropriate arrangement, this would be discussed with the family. Where a student attends more than one educational setting, their eligibility for a Personal Transport Budget to each setting will be assessed separately.

Regular and proportionate checks will be carried out to ensure that Personal Transport Budgets are used appropriately, in accordance with the Council’s Personal Transport Budget agreement with the parent/carer.

A Personal Transport Budget may be withdrawn in some circumstances or a reduction in the payment amounts made, including if:

  • a student’s attendance falls below 90% (this aligns with the government definition of “Persistent Absence” in school-age children which is an absence rate of 90% and below.) It is recognised that attendance for some students may be affected by their medical needs, and the details and evidence of this will be taken into consideration in determining whether to withdraw, reduce or reclaim a Personal Transport Budget.
  • a student regularly arrives late at school or college in the mornings or in an unfit state to learn
  • a Personal Transport Budget is not being used appropriately
  • it is not cost-effective for the Council to continue providing the Personal Transport Budget
  • it has been assessed that the student is no longer eligible for travel assistance
  • there is a change to national legislation and/or the Council’s policies

Agreeing the amount of Personal Transport Budgets

To determine the appropriate Personal Transport Budget amount the following factors, alongside discussion with the family, will be considered:

  • the special educational needs and disabilities of the student
  • the travel distance as measured by the Council
  • how the student might travel to their educational setting
  • the time the journey takes
  • whether the student is able to travel alone or if they need to be accompanied
  • the age of the student
  • whether any specialist equipment might be required

The standard amount that would be awarded with a Personal Transport Budget is 45p per mile, using the shortest road distance as measured by the Council’s transport software system. The cost of two return journeys per day of attendance at their educational setting (i.e. all four legs of the journeys) would be included in the Personal Transport Budget amount. Any variation to the standard amount will be considered as part of the student’s travel assessment. As a Personal Transport Budget can be used in many ways there is no expectation that the parent/carer will use the same route as measured by the Council.

There might be circumstances where a Personal Transport Budget is not appropriate. This could include where the Council can arrange transport at a lower cost and would take into account the specific needs of the student. This will be assessed as part of the application process. The Council will make the final decision based on all the available information.

More detailed information can be found on our Personal Transport Budgets webpage.

6.2 Mileage Allowance for students with SEND

Personal Transport Budgets have replaced mileage allowances. However there may be exceptional circumstances where a mileage allowance could be offered on a temporary basis. These are assessed and offered to parents/carers on a case by case basis.

6.3 Council organised transport for an annual fee

Transport can be arranged by the Council for an annual fee for students with SEND aged 16-19 who are eligible for travel assistance, irrespective of the distance from home to school or educational setting. The fee is a contribution towards the cost of arranged transport. The charge would be applied on a pro-rata basis where required to reflect the number of days a student attends a school/educational setting.

In all cases a minimum charge will be applied, equivalent to 1 day per week for all students wishing to have transport organised, including those in 38 or 52 week placements.

The annual fee structure is reviewed each year and is set out on our website.

Payment will be based on the number of days the student will be attending their education setting at the beginning of the academic year. These days cannot be swapped or reduced once the transport has been arranged; however, it may be possible to arrange transportation for extra days for an additional cost.

Payments need to be made within 28 days of the Council confirming the transport fees that apply. Any non-payment will result in the withdrawal of transport. In these instances, parents/carers will be notified in writing of the date that transport will end. Transport will not be reinstated until any outstanding charges are paid.

More detailed information can be found on our transport for post-16 students with SEND webpage.

6.4 Help with travel costs

Where the Council has arranged transport, families can apply for a one-third reduction to the annual fee if they are able to demonstrate financial hardship. The reduced charge would be applied on a pro-rata basis where required to reflect the number of days a student attends a school/educational setting.

To qualify for the reduced charge, the following are required:

  • evidence of Income Support / Universal Credit
  • evidence that the household income is less than £21,000 gross (i.e. before any deductions)

The process to apply for the reduced annual fee and details of the evidence we require is described on our website.

Families may wish to apply for financial support through the bursary schemes that are managed by schools and other educational settings. Any bursary awards granted by the school would be paid directly to the family.

There are two types of bursaries which students are able to apply to for financial assistance. One of these is discretionary. These are described below.

The 16-19 Vulnerable Bursary Fund

A key Government priority is to close the gap in attainment between those from different economic backgrounds, and to ensure every young person participates in and benefits from a place in 16-19 education and/or training.

Bursaries for defined vulnerable groups are available up to £1,200 a year for the most vulnerable groups. This includes:

  • young people in care
  • care leavers
  • young people claiming Income Support or Universal Credit because they are financially supporting themselves or supporting themselves and dependents
  • young people receiving the following payments in their own right:
    • Disability Living Allowance OR Personal Independence Payment as well as:
    • employment and Support Allowance OR Universal Credit

The bursary is paid if young people meeting the above eligibility criteria are in financial need. Applications are facilitated through the school or other educational setting which the student attends. Enquiries should be directed to the school or college.

Further information on the eligibility criteria for this bursary can be found on GOV.UK: 16 to 19 bursary fund guide.

Discretionary bursaries

Discretionary funding may be available to support students to access education and training. This funding is managed locally, and schools and other educational settings can award this funding to any student who is facing genuine financial barriers to participation. Schools/educational settings set their own eligibility criteria and decide on how much is paid. They set their own conditions for students to meet to receive a discretionary bursary. This might include standards of behaviour or attendance.

To find out if you are eligible for a discretionary bursary, contact your school or other educational setting.

Severe financial hardship

To support exceptional circumstances where families experience severe financial hardship, the Council has discretion through a panel review process to consider:

  • delaying the payment period for the reduced annual fee
  • reducing the annual fee further
  • waiving the annual fee completely

To be eligible for consideration, the parent/carer must demonstrate that:

  • they have applied for the reduced annual fee in their original application for transport and that the reduced annual fee has already been awarded
  • they have applied to their child’s educational setting for one of the two bursary schemes and have received an outcome decision
  • the reduced annual fee is not affordable because they would not be able to meet their essential living needs by paying the charge

To apply, the parent/carer must provide details of the financial circumstances of the household which evidence the above criteria as well as evidence of application to bursary schemes.

Family circumstances such as receiving benefits or being a single parent household are not sufficient reasons alone for agreeing an application. However, they may be taken into account if there are also other reasons that together represent severe financial hardship.

In making a decision, the Council will consider whether sufficient evidence of severe financial hardship has been demonstrated.

If the financial hardship is likely to be temporary, the Council may be able to delay or extend the period over which the reduced annual fee will be paid. The Council can consider further reducing the annual fee to a level that is reasonable to enable the family to meet their essential living needs. Where there is evidence that the financial hardship is likely to be long-lasting and very severe, the Council will consider waiving the annual fee completely.

The process for applying for a review due to severe financial hardship is described on our website.

6.5 Circumstances where payments for transport are not required

In some circumstances transport is funded by the Council. These are:

  • Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who are Looked After Children (LAC)
  • Students who are in receipt of Continuing Health Care funding that covers their transport
  • Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who have started a new educational course since their 19th birthday - for these students transport to educational placements becomes funded until they turn 25 or leave education or training completely as Adult Learners

If a student is undertaking a course of learning which is clearly stated to have a number of modules eventually leading to one overarching qualification or certificate on completion of all the modules, then that would be one course. A new module of a continuing course of study is not classed as a “new” course.