Cumbria

Cumbria school transport changes approved

Changes to home-to-school transport in Cumbria have been approved.

Cumbria County Council's cabinet agreed plans affecting discretionary support provided for up to 6,500 students at a costs of more than £2m a year.

The council said spending pressures had forced it to reassess its priorities and target resources where most needed.

Support for a number of schemes will be cut but the authority has pledged to set up a hardship fund to support low-income families.

The changes will not affect the transport support to about 10,000 children which the council provides by law.

'Appreciate impact'

The fund will be available from September with the aim of supporting students going into 16-19 education.

Anyone eligible for free school meals will be entitled to assistance with transport.

There will be a £350 annual charge for 16-19-year-olds starting their studies in September. Those who have already started their studies will still be supported.

Grants for nursery travel will stop from September.

From September there will also be a £350 annual charge for pupils travelling to faith schools, except for those from low-income families.

Council chief executive Jill Stannard said: "School transport is a service where for many years the council has done more than it is required to by law but unfortunately the council cannot afford to continue this level of service.

"We appreciate that this will have an impact on young people and families, which is why we have introduced the hardship fund so that no child or young person from a low income household is prevented from accessing education."

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