Council’s hopes to save £1.4m in transport costs in Norfolk
Proposals to improve the way transport is provided by the county council, which the authority says will help people become more independent, are to be considered.
Norfolk County Council is set to prepare a detailed case, after consultants suggested ideas to save £1.4 million from its £33.9 million transport bill for children and adults.
Councillor Penny Carpenter, chairwoman of the children's services committee, said Norfolk was a huge county of 2,074 square miles and faced rising costs for special educational needs transport.
She said: "We need to change the conversation with families and schools, so that they are not reliant on us to make decisions for them.
"By looking at options such as collection points, where parents take their children to the equivalent of a bus stop, we can help children become more independent, while still meeting their needs and reducing costs."
The council's transport spending – excluding £11.9 million on free, off-peak bus travel for disabled people and pensioners and £4 million on bus subsidies and community transport – is £33.9 million.
This is made up of £13.1 million for special educational needs transport, £11.6 million for mainstream school transport, £5.9 million for adult social services transport and £3.3 million for post-16 transport.
The council is set to draw up a business case by October on two proposals which could save a total of £1.4 million.
These include the co-design of route planning, which means involving schools and families more actively in deciding transport routes, and special educational needs collection points, when parents take their child to a collection point, such as a bus stop, rather than the child being collected from home.
Two other options, which can be implemented immediately, are improving the personal transport budget pilot project (families of pupils eligible for school transport could receive budgets to make their own arrangements to suit personal circumstances), and a review of historic adult social services transport arrangements, with transport costs reduced by £176,000, if more people accessed services closer to their homes.
A council spokesman said: "The consultants found that the cost of mainstream school transport was reducing, so no further action was required at the moment."
Councillors will consider the report when the policy and resources committee meets on Monday.