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East Sussex SEN pupils could lose free bus travel
East Sussex pupils with special needs and disabilities could lose free bus travel to school under county council cost-cutting proposals.
Families of post-16 students would have to fork out £370 a year if they are not on low incomes.
Free travel would also be scrapped if a pupil does not go to their nearest school under the plans.
The council said the proposals will make school travel “more equitable” but admitted they would “not be welcome”.
A spokesman for disability charity Scope said: “Parents tell us that living with and caring for a disabled child can place enormous strain on the |family.
“For many it is a daily struggle to get the right support and to make ends meet. This is the kind of extra cost that many will find hard to cover.”
Around 90 special needs or disabled children go to school in East Sussex with 75% set to potentially be affected.
The proposed cutbacks are part of a three-year plan to save £63 million across East Sussex, with £1.5 million to be slashed from the £9.9m transport budget.
Pupils who already receive free travel will not lose their benefit. But low income post-16 students could also face a reduction of up to £24 per year.
Three consultations have been launched into each separate proposal, which would come into effect from September 2014.
Councillor Nick Bennett, lead member for learning and schools, said: “We understand that these proposals will not be welcomed, but we have to reduce our budget in order to make savings. The proposed changes ensure people who really need help – particularly students from families on low incomes – continue to receive it.
“The consultations will make sure those concerned understand the proposals and give people a chance to make their own suggestions and share their thoughts on how the savings can be made.
“We want to be able to assess the impact of these proposed changes on individuals and would encourage anyone with an interest in the proposals to make their thoughts known.”
Coun Godfrey Daniel, Labour member for Hastings, said: “The sad thing is the government cuts are hitting people with disabilities worst.
“I hope the consultation is a genuine one and people speak loudlybut, sadly, I think the council has already made up its mind, which will leave even more young people and their parents unhappy.”
Join in the consultation at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay.
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