Home to School Transport changes agreed by RCT Council

Written by on 21st March 2024

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet has agreed to implement changes to Home to School Transport provision from September 2025, that apply to eligible secondary school and post-16 learners.

In response to the consultation feedback, primary school transport will remain at its current level. This means free discretionary transport will continue to be provided for primary age learners living 1.5 miles or more away from their place of learning.

The wider changes will see the transport provision for secondary school and post-16 leaners in English Medium, Welsh Medium and Faith schools/colleges brought in line with the statutory distance criteria set out in Welsh Government’s Learner Travel Measure. This means free transport will be provided for learners living a distance of 3 miles or more away from their place of learning (currently it is provided for learners living 2 miles or more).

Even when the changes come into force in September 2025, the Council will continue to operate one of the most generous Home to School Transport provisions in Wales, with several elements above Welsh Government’s statutory level.

The Council’s initial proposal would have delivered forecasted, full-year savings of approximately £2.5m, which have now been reduced by £200,000 due to the decision to maintain existing provision for eligible primary school age pupils.

A Rhondda Cynon Taf Council spokesperson said:

“Last week, council members agreed the most challenging budget to date, needing to close a £36.65 million gap between the cost of delivering services and the amount of money we have to spend.

“As a council, we have had to make difficult decisions to ensure that services continue to be delivered in a financially sustainable way. It’s a financially tough outlook for councils across the UK, including Rhondda Cynon Taf, with no signs of relief on the horizon.

“Residents had the opportunity to make their voices heard during the consultation period, and Cabinet Members have listened to them. But at the same time, tough decisions have had to be made to balance the Council’s budget.

“That is why Cabinet has proceeded with the wider proposals, but decided not to change Home to School Transport for our youngest learners, retaining the eligibility for primary school learners at 1.5 miles or more.

“All secondary and post-16 learners will be eligible for free transport in line with Welsh Government’s Learner Travel Measure, which is in place across 18 of 22 Welsh council areas. This means learners who live 3 miles or more away from their place of learning will still receive free transport.

“We acknowledge that this decision will not be popular with those affected, however feedback from the consultation has been taken into account alongside consideration of the relevant impact assessments, which is why no changes have been made for primary learners.

“The Home to School Transport changes for eligible secondary and post-16 learners will be brought in from September 2025.”

This decision follows a significant consultation exercise that saw nearly 3,000 respondents submit feedback on the proposals.

Councils across the UK are facing significant budget challenges based on factors including the high level of inflation, the ongoing Cost of Living crisis, and increasing demand for services. Like most things, the cost of Home to School Transport has ballooned in recent years, with costs increasing from £8 million in 2015 to more than £15 million in 2023/24.


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