William Eichler 27 March 2024

Spending on SEND school transport doubles to £1.4bn

Spending on SEND school transport doubles to £1.4bn   image
Image: Jaren Jai Wicklund / Shutterstock.com.

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school transport system must be reformed or else it will ‘threaten the financial viability of councils’, council leaders warn.

The cost of SEND school transport has increased from £727m in 2019 to £1.4bn in 2024, freedom of information requests by the BBC have revealed.

The dramatic rise is the result of a 32% increase in the cost per SEND pupil, from £6,280 to £8,299, and a 43% increase in the number of SEND pupils the average council in England is now transporting (1,300 in 2023/24, up from 911 in 2018/19).

Responding to the research, Cllr Tim Oliver, chairman of the County Councils Network (CCN), warned ‘the system is not working for parents and local authorities alike’.

‘Something has to give to ensure it does not threaten the financial viability of councils and we are able to safeguard these vital services,’ he continued.

‘Therefore, unless there is substantial injection of funding, the next government must set out a comprehensive set of reforms to ensure the system is sustainable, incorporating the views of both families and councils.’

The Government has said it is investing £2.6bn in special school places.

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