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Cuts loom for free school buses
THOUSANDS of pupils across Essex could have their free bus passes taken away by Essex County Council.
County Hall bosses are proposing major changes to the way it funds transport for children from home to school, which costs the authority £25million a year.
Among the proposals is to scrap any free transport for families earning more than £42,457 and means-testing disabled children who rely on taxis to take them to school.
Pupils will also only be allowed transport to their local school and children of low-income families who go to grammar school won’t get funding.
Announcing a six-week consultation on the plans, Ray Gooding, county councillor responsible for education and lifelong learning, said: “Quite simply, we need to save money right across the board and this means a review of the discretionary elements of our Home to School Transport policy.
“We do not have the level of funding to continue providing the same levels of service that we have provided to students in the past.
“The existing discretionary transport policy is incrediblygenerous, but it is complicated, unfair and outdated.
“We need to review our existing policy to make sure it is simple, fair, consistent and transparent and to ensure that, in the long-term, the local authority can provide for those who need our support the most.”
The council also wants to scrap free transport to schools in the county it now considers as being accessible by a safe walking route.
It is also reviewing the help it gives to families of children aged over 16 and plans to cut the funding for low-income families by 50 per cent, regardless of whether they still qualify for transport or not.
Families of statemented special educational needs pupils will also be charged for transport on a sliding scale.
The deadline for applying for help towards school transport will also be brought forward.
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