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(UK) "Exponential rise" in SPED transport costs; lack of suitable places

Nov 2, 2019, iNews: Home-to-school transport for special educational needs children under threat as costs rise and funds are cut https://inews.co.uk/news/education/home-to-school-transport-for-special-educational-needs-children-under-threat-as-costs-rise-and-funds-are-cut-825267 Home-to-school transport for children with special educational needs (SEN) in under threat as councils struggle to keep up with rising costs and lack of funding. A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network found councils in England are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support and youth services. In 2017/18, councils spent £323m [$418M US] on SEN transport, up by 30 per cent compared to 2013/14. It’s predicted this could rise by a further £127m [$164M US] by 2024. The rise is driven by an increase in the number of eligible pupils for home-to-school transport services with counties transporting 7,592 more SEN students in 2018 than in 2014. Increase in SEN students The vast majority of the expenditure is dedicated to taxis, minibuses and private hire vehicles needed to transport the SEN pupils safely. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the increase in costs, including population increases, legislation changes and improvements in medical science. One of the key drivers is SEN children increasingly being sent to specialist schools further away due to a shortage of suitable schools closer to home. The report found councils have already cut transport spending by 27 per cent, whittling down the number of children receiving free home-to-school transport by more than 10,000 in five years.... Call for legislative change The County Councils Network has called on the Government to tackle the exponential rise in costs and ensure they are adequately funded. Councillor Keith Glazier said: “These rising costs of special educational needs transport and wider financial pressures facing councils have resulted in authorities significantly reducing other school transport services….