NEATH PORT TALBOT Council have agreed to introduce a new personal travel budget for school children across the borough this week, at the monthly Education Skills and Wellbeing cabinet board.
The Personal Travel Budget, or PTB, will available to to those who have an entitlement under the Council’s Home to School Travel Policy 2017, for parents to organise home to school travel in a way that better suits their needs.
It is designed to help alleviate pressures on the current Home to School Travel Assistance Budget, and to offer a wider range of choice to parents and carers across the county borough.
All local authorities across Wales have a statutory duty to provide free home to school travel assistance for eligible children, including those living over the walking distance, those that live on an unsuitable route, and those who are unable to walk because of an additional learning need or disability.
The latest budget intended as an alternative means of travel assistance, which will continue to include the existing offer of a mileage allowance but will also include a number of other options that could help parents and carers who chose to take it up.
These include purchasing a travel pass for public transport so the child may be accompanied, paying a responsible person deemed to be appropriate by the parent or carer to help the child use public transport, along with paying for fuel, or a child minder to look after siblings.
Other options would include paying for travel by taxi, paying a responsible person to drive, walk or cycle with the child, as well as organising travel to separate home addresses where there is split custody.
The report given to members read: “By introducing a Personal Travel Budget to include these additional factors there is more choice for parents and carers to make arrangements according to their personal circumstances, and which meet the needs of their child. Following introduction, the initiative will be reviewed to monitor its relevance and suitability for service users, including the level of take-up.”
The Personal Travel Budget is now set to become available for use in the new academic year 2023/2024, for those who choose take it up, however, as per the report, it says an offer would be made at the discretion of the council and would only be made if the PTB is more cost effective than any other alternative travel arrangement the council is able to make.