Up go school run payments

PARENTS of children who are eligible for free transport are being offered increased incentives to ferry their youngsters to and from school to save money on taxis. And professional children walkers are also being considered as another option for getting

PARENTS of children who are eligible for free transport are being offered increased incentives to ferry their youngsters to and from school to save money on taxis.

And 'professional children walkers' are also being considered as another option for getting students to school with minimum cost.

Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to increase the parents' mileage rate from 25p a mile, to 40p to increase the take-up of the allowance.

The new rate, to be paid from this month, would still ensure the county council saves money, says a report published this week.

"Although take-up is low, parental transport works well when there is no existing transport provision," says a report from the children and young people's services scrutiny committee.

"Even at this higher rate, savings would still be generated. For example a parent would receive £8 per day if he/she lived five miles from the schools (for a 20-mile trip) compared to the average £20 per day cost of a taxi."

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The committee says parents can claim up to 10,000 miles a year before they have to start paying tax on their travel claims.

"Only parents transporting their children more than 52 miles per day would enter this bracket," says the report.

Increasing payments to parents is only one of the ideas now under consideration, another is to examine whether 'walking escorts' might be a possibility.

This would see people paid £5 an hour to walk a child to school.

The report says this would constitute "a healthy, cost-effective solution to localised transport difficulties that would otherwise incur the cost of a taxi.

"It may prove a particularly helpful option for the children of disabled parents who are physically unable to accompany their child to school."

One problem would be that 'walking escorts' would need to be employed by the council, and have undergone an enhanced CRB check which could delay setting up the arrangements.

The council says this is unfortunate since "cases requiring a walking escort are temporary and need to be set up as quickly as possible."

Major changes to school transport are needed, says the report, particularly in the post-16 age group, and for disabled students.

The council is predicting an overspend of £1million for the past year and throughout the summer officers will be working on a revised school transport policy.

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