Parents facing school transport cuts deliver petition to No.10
Thursday 7th June 2018
Today families affected by changes to school transport delivered our petition to Downing Street, calling on the government to close the loophole in school transport law for disabled youngsters.
Over 10,000 people signed our petition, as more and more disabled children up and down the country are being charged or refused school transport because councils are exploiting a loophole in the law.
The loophole means that although a young person is expected to be in school or training until 18, it is the individual council's discretion whether to fund their transport there once they turn 16. As councils struggle with budget pressures, more and more are withdrawing funding for disabled youngsters to receive school transport.
"The impact of losing school transport is huge"
Families are currently fighting cuts to school transport for disabled children in Coventry, Leicestershire, West Sussex, North Yorkshire, Leeds, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Suffolk.
Una Summerson, head of policy at Contact, said: "We know from our school transport inquiry that the impact of losing school transport is huge - with parents having to give up work or disabled teenagers unable to complete their education.
"We understand councils are under enormous budget pressures but we don't believe the solution is to pass this pressure on to disabled children and their families who already face significant extra challenges and costs."
"It is affecting some of the most vulnerable children"
Laura Groves, from Coventry, whose 16-year-old daughter Sara, is paralysed from the chest down, and has learning difficulties, epilepsy and scoliosis, said: "We've been told we need to pay £600 to continue getting the transport that my daughter Sara has had since she started at the school aged three. This is unaffordable and unfair.
"It is affecting some of the most vulnerable children and families not just in Coventry, but up and down the country. That's why we have travelled down to Downing Street today to deliver this petition. We must change this unfair loophole in the law."
Leanna Forse from Eastbourne, whose son Billy aged 17 has a rare chromosome disorder, said: "When Billy qualified for free school transport, aged six, it allowed me to think about a career and I started a degree, did teacher training and got a job as an English Teacher in a local secondary school. I wanted to work and give back to my community and it was amazing to have the opportunity to do that.
"But when Billy turned 16 I was told that he would no longer get school transport, even though he was staying at the same school. It is essential that Billy goes to college, he has therapies there which are helping him progress, so I have given up my job to transport him myself ensuring he stays at college."
"This could easily be fixed by a small change in law"
Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne, whose constituents, Leanna and Billy helped deliver the petition said: "Cuts to school transport mean that my constituents, like Leanna, have to leave important jobs as teachers to ensure their children get to school. It's a nonsense and could easily be fixed by a small change in the law.
"Parents with disabled children are doing an enormous service to our economy but are repeatedly bearing the brunt of local authority cuts."
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We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in our school transport petition.
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