Disabled youngsters face transport cuts

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Free transport to school for special needs pupils could be cut back as part of a new austerity package drawn up by Derbyshire County Council.

Some families with disabled children may have to pay in future as part of efforts to save £157 million by 2018.

The proposed changes would affect sixth-form age students, pre-school children and young adults aged 19 to 25 with a learning disability.

The council has a legal duty to provide free transport for special needs children of normal school age, so those youngsters would be unaffected.

A decision will be made after full consultations have been carried out.

Sixth-formers could be charged £349 a year, while pre-schoolers will have to pay £316. Over 19s would only get free transport if it was judged to be necessary.

The changes would save the authority £191,500 a year and would be introduced from next September.

Coun Kevin Gillott, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We have to look at every penny we spend to try to meet these unprecedented cuts and that includes putting our own house in order to make savings.

“We didn’t want to be in this position where we have to think about making cuts to these services but we don’t have a choice. Again the council is trying to balance the books in response to Government funding cuts.

“If cabinet agrees to the proposal to consult we’d want to hear from as many people as possible so we can do our best for all Derbyshire children and families and treat them fairly.”

Overall spending on services for families would be reduced by a third.

The plans are up for discussion at the cabinet meeting on January 21.