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Time to Raise Awareness of Free School Transport

May 26, 2009 2:35 PM

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are concerned that large numbers of children could be missing out on free school transport because families are not aware of the support available. School transport is free for children who are eligible for free school meals or whose families receive the full level of Working Families Tax Credit, provided they live a certain distance from their school. Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are encouraging the council and individual schools to raise awareness of the support which exists.

Commenting on the issue, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Brickhill Ward Charles Royden said: "Since discovering that free school transport was available for many families, I have raised this with parents across Brickhill. However, I have found that the level of awareness of the support available is very low indeed.'

"It is vital that hard-pressed families who qualify for free school transport are able to access this support, particularly in these tough economic times. Just as it is essential that local residents receive government benefits to which they are entitled, we must ensure that where support is available for school transport costs, eligible families are able to claim for it.'

"As with benefits, it is often the case that it does not occur to people that they might be eligible. For example, while the minimum journey distance for free school transport of two miles might sound quite a long way, almost all children in Brickhill attending Biddenham Upper School would meet this criteria. I would encourage parents in receipt of the full Working Families Tax Credit or whose children are eligible for free school meals to contact the council to check if they can claim free transport. I would also encourage the council and schools to work to raise the profile of the support available."

Free school transport for children from low income families is provided by Bedford Borough Council, in accordance with the Education Inspection Act 2006.