A charity that helps families of children with special needs fears looming cuts to school transport could be the “tip of the iceberg”.
Bradford Council will tomorrow decide whether to make numerous cuts to free transport. One of the groups affected will be under fives with special educational needs. For this group, free transport to the nearest qualifying school with a place available will be cut from September 2015.
The Parents’ Forum for Bradford and Airedale says the cuts may only affect a small number of families, but it will have a huge impact on their lives.
And the Conservative Party says the estimated savings of £90,000 a year are relatively small compared to the rest of the Council’s budget.
The service is discretionary – and with Bradford Council having to save £89m over the next two years – is one of several recommended to be cut.
Sam Jepson Houlden, chairman of the Parents’ Forum, said: “When you think of the implications behind these cuts, you have to think where will it stop? It might only affect a small number of children and families, but the implications are far reaching. We worry these cuts might just be the tip of the iceberg, and will cause a lot of problems for a lot of the families we deal with.”
Councillor Roger L’Amie, Conservative spokesman for children’s services, believes the savings from cutting free transport to SEN children were “nominal” and added: “It is to me perverse that a council which has a statutory obligation to provide free transport for children over five with SENs, is considering the removal of such transport to younger children, simply because there is no law to force them to.”
Councillor Ralph Berry, executive for children’s services on the Council, pointed out that the decision was a result of local government cuts by the Conservative Government.
He said: “We will retain discretion and people can still ask for support or appeal decisions to remove it. We are not saying we won’t support these children, but the cost would otherwise build up year on year.
“Mr L’Amie seems to forget that we have much less money and have to retain front line services.”
The final decision will be made by the council executive at a meeting in City Hall at 10.30am.