Post-16 Transport Policy Statement 2021/22

Last updated: 18 June 2021

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

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 request transport arranged by the Council for an annual fee of £900.

6.1. Personal Transport Budgets

A Personal Transport Budget allows 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 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;
  • paying for a shared taxi with other 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 a travel pass for 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 requesting a Personal Transport Budget would be awarded one unless the cost to the Council exceeded the cost of arranging the transport, or if suitable arrangements cannot be made.

A Personal Transport Budget is paid on the assumption that students are over 16 years old, and they 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 would be 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, they would be responsible for any checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on anyone that is employed.

Similarly, if a parent/carer uses the Personal Transport Budget to enter into contracts with organisations e.g. after school 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
  • 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.

A Personal Transport Budget may be withdrawn in some circumstances, 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
  • a student regularly arrives late at school in the mornings or in an unfit state to learn
  • there is a change to national legislation and/or the Council’s policies

Agreeing the amount of Personal Transport Budgets

The following factors will be taken into consideration alongside discussion with the family, to determine the appropriate personal budget amount:

  • the special educational needs and disabilities of the student
  • the travel distance
  • how the student might travel to school
  • 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 minimum amount that would be awarded with a Personal Transport Budget is 45p per mile. The cost of two return journeys per day of attendance at school or setting (i.e. all four legs of the journeys) would be included in the Personal Transport Budget amount. As every family’s circumstances are different we are unable to determine an approximate upper limit. In many cases it may exceed the amount a family would pay if the Council were organising the transport on their behalf.

6.2. Mileage Allowance for SEND

Personal Transport Budgets replace mileage allowances. However there may be exceptional circumstances where a mileage allowance could be offered on a temporary basis.

6.3. Council organised transport for an annual fee

Transport can be arranged by the Council for an annual fee of £900 irrespective of the distance from home to school or educational setting. The charge would be 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 minimum amount any family will be charged for each Council organised transport place is £180.

Payment will be based on the number of days that the student will be attending their education setting at the beginning of the academic year. These 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 transport being confirmed in writing. Any non-payment will result in the withdrawal of transport at the end of the first half term. 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.

6.4. Help with travel costs

Where the Council has arranged transport, families can apply for a reduced annual fee of £600 if they are able to demonstrate financial hardship. The reduced charge would be 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 would be required:

  • evidence of Income Support / Universal Credit
  • evidence that your household income is less than £21,000

The process for applying for the reduced annual fee is described on our help with travel costs webpage.

Families may wish to apply for financial support through the bursary schemes that are managed by schools and other educational settings. Where this is the case, 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 priority of the Government 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 2020 to 21 academic year.

Discretionary bursaries

Discretionary funding may also be available to support students in accessing education and training. This funding is managed locally and schools and other educational settings are able to 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 in order to receive a discretionary bursary. This might include standards of behaviour or attendance.

To find out if you are eligible for a discretionary bursary please 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 an appeal process to consider:

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

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

  • they have applied for the reduced annual fee of £600 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 charge will be paid. The Council can consider reducing the charge further 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 charge completely.

The process for applying to appeal due to severe financial hardship is described on help with travel costs webpage.

For further information, please see section 12 on how to appeal a decision.

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 at 19 - for these students transport to educational placements becomes funded until they are 25 or leave education or training completely as Adult Learners