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(UK) Wiltshire: Not enough taxis for SPED students; 'demand continues to grow'

Nov 30, 2022, Salisbury Journal: Not enough taxis to take special needs children to school

S. England

Wiltshire Council does not have enough taxis to take some special needs children to school, according to a new council report.

The shortage means some pupils have had their timetables reduced and the Council is paying other parents to take the children in said Cabinet Member for Transport Dr Mark McClelland, commenting on the report.

This follows a national fall in the numbers of taxi drivers and vehicles according to the report on Wiltshire taxi licences to be discussed by the Licensing Committee on December 5.

The report says: “The Passenger Transport Unit have advised they are struggling to fulfil all of their SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] school contracts due to a lack of drivers and vehicles.”

Cllr McClelland said: “We have had to put temporary arrangements in place such as doubling up on runs, reduced pupil timetables or paying parents to take them.”

He added: “In Wiltshire there was a shortage of taxi drivers to fulfil our SEND school contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic hit the taxi industry very hard, and all local authorities have seen reducing driver numbers due to drivers switching to doing other driving and delivery jobs.”…

“The results of this are starting to feed through and we currently only have a small number of SEND school transport contracts unfilled.”

But even though the number of new applicants is back to pre-pandemic levels the report says the industry has still not recovered from the impact of Covid because older drivers keep leaving.

It says: “Whilst new applications are up overall driver levels remain flat as older drivers continue to leave the industry.”

“The current economic position within the UK may result in a recovery in the taxi industry taking longer than expected, if indeed it ever returns to pre-pandemic levels.”

Cllr McClelland added: “Demand for Send school transport continues to grow, so we are still keen to recruit more taxi drivers and to hear from drivers who would like to apply for our contracts. ...

Not enough taxis to take special needs children to school


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