County councils spent £323.3m on transporting young people to school last year, figures have revealed.
A survey from the County Councils Network (CCN) found the cost of providing free transport for vulnerable and special needs pupils has increased by £75m over the past four years ago.
This increase has been driven by an increase in special educational needs pupils, with counties now transporting over 7,500 more pupils compared to figures for 2013/14.
It found Kent County Council is the member county that spends the most on special educational needs home to school transport at £24.9m in 2017/18. This is an increase of 45% increase compared to 2013/14.
Cllr Carl Les, CCN spokesman for children’s services and education, said: ‘Demand for special educational needs funded school transport has increased exponentially over the last four years, but our funding for these lifeline services has remained static.
‘These new unfunded burdens have come at a time when local authority budgets are being stretched due to the unprecedented financial pressures we all face.’
He added: ‘Regrettably, we are having to scale back the services we aren’t legally obliged to deliver or re-route funding from other services because the current funding for school transport is not keeping up with demand. We would encourage government to address this in the Spending and fairer funding reviews.’