Review underway on Post-16 travel charges

11 Jul 2017

A comprehensive review is now underway on a council policy which sees some students in Northumberland paying £600 a year to travel to school and college.

The review will focus on delivering the new administration’s commitment to introducing a zero charge within the council term.

Over 100 students in the county currently have to pay an annual sum of £600 for travel organised by the authority, and other Post 16 students who are able to use public transport having to pay for their own travel.

It was not possible for the new administration to bring in any changes to its Post 16 Transport Policy ahead of the statutory deadline for the 2017/18 school year, which came just days after the new council was formed.

However work has now started on reviewing the whole policy and in the interim the council has implemented an additional payment option which allows families to spread payments more evenly.

From September 2017 students can opt to make eight payments of £75 via direct debit - as opposed to paying the whole amount as a lump sum or with £200 up front.

Deputy Council Leader Wayne Daley, who is also Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We remain committed to overhauling this policy and have begun reviewing every aspect of it.

“The first stage is a comprehensive information gathering exercise so we fully understand the way forward.

“The fact we had a week between forming a new administration and meeting statutory deadlines meant we simply couldn’t make any major changes for the coming school year.

“However we were keen to find a way of offering increased flexibility for those students and families who have to pay the charges.

“Many people find it easier to spread bills evenly in smaller amounts rather than pay lump-sums or larger initial instalments. It’s positive to report people are already signing up to this new payment method.”

The £600 travel charge for students attending their nearest educational establishments where public transport is not available was introduced by the previous council administration.