Council spent £4.4 million taking more than 1,000 Doncaster children to and from school by taxi

Doncaster Council spent nearly £4.4 million transporting more than 1,000 children to and from school by taxis, new figures reveal.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 25th July 2022, 1:52 pm

The data, provided by a Freedom of Information request shows 1,016 Doncaster children were taken to and from school each day by taxis and minibuses provided by a number of firms during the 2021/2022 academic year.

But around 25 per cent of the bill – at just shy of £1.2 million – is spent on just 101 children who are attending schools outside of Doncaster.

Council bosses say the costs have increased due to more children needing trips to specialist schools, some which are outside Doncaster and further afield than South Yorkshire.

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DMBC spent £4.4 million taking 1,016 to and from school in taxis, new FOI figures show.

Senior councillors said that central government needs to draw up a longer term plan due increased pressures on councils.

The total cost for passenger attendants for 2021/2022 was £1,120,915. This is broken down to £759,395 for external passenger attendants and £361,520 for internal passenger attendants.

Transport chiefs at DMBC said there has been a ‘year on year increase’ in both the number of pupils requiring travel assistance and the cost of the assistance provided.

They added this is reflected across most councils with the recent increase in the cost of living and rise in fuel costs ‘will lead to further increases in the future’.

Taxi and minibus transportation is provided for a number of reasons. The majority of pupils accessing this form of transport have Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disabilities and are not able to travel to school or college independently or via public transport.

In many cases these children often have longer journeys to make to the most suitable school which can meet their individual needs.

Transport is provided for a number of reasons including behavioural and medical needs as well as educational needs.

The council also provides transport for a small number of pupils living in remote areas where there is no public transport service or accessible footpath to school.

Councillor Lani-Mae Ball, cabinet Member for education, skills and young people, said: “In an ideal world every child would have a school bus, adequate public transport taking them to school or live within walking distance but against the backdrop of increasing demand for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

“With the continued reduction in services from private bus companies and lack of government investment in appropriate schools means that Doncaster Council is left to fill the gap to ensure these young people get to school.

“A national long term strategy is needed to address the increase in need to help prevent local authorities having to cut essential services to react to the pressure on the service.”