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Council funding for taxi trips for Havering school children with special needs to cease



Havering Council has unveiled plans to discontinue council-funded taxi trips for school children with special needs in a bid to address its multi-million-pound budget deficit.


Alongside this measure, the council also intends to reduce the number of bus journeys it financially supports. The proposed transport policy emphasises the need for cost-effective options, while promoting ridehailing and direct payments to enable parents in organising their own transportation solutions.

As part of these changes, the council plans to implement stringent eligibility criteria to significantly decrease the number of school bus trips subsidised by the council.


Oscar Ford, the Cabinet member for children and young people, said that these alterations are part of the council's efforts to exercise expenditure control. Instead of taxi and bus costs, the council aims to introduce personal budgets for the children.


Before final approval is secured from the cabinet, the proposed policy will undergo a public consultation process. In the previous academic year, the council had a budget of £5.5 million for transporting eligible children to school, resulting in costs that exceeded their allocation. This amount was twice what the council had initially anticipated. In 2019/20, the council spent £3.6 million on taxis and buses for school transportation purposes.

The council highlights a significant and continuous rise in the number of residents with Education Health and Care Plans (ECHP). Between 2018 and 2022, this figure surged by over 60 percent, reaching a total of 2,189 individuals. A report on the proposed policy, presented to the cabinet last week, outlined potential savings totaling £1.4 million over the next four years.


The policy breakdown revealed that the council's most costly daily taxi charge covers a distance of 16 miles, which, together with the cost of a passenger assistant escort, amounts to approximately £45,000 per school year. Under the new policy, reimbursement for fuel or a trip via ride-hailing service Uber would cost approximately £30 per day, equating to approximately £5,500 per year.

The council's assessment of the policy's impact concluded that while disabled children will experience changes, ‘appropriate measures’ will be taken to ensure their needs are appropriately addressed. The proposed policy will now proceed through the necessary consultation and approval process with the expectation of implementation in due course.

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