The Department’s school travel policy aims to make sure that no pupil is prevented from accessing education by a lack of transport. Local Authorities must arrange free home to school travel for pupils of compulsory school age who attend their nearest school and would not be able to walk there because of the distance, their special educational needs, disability or mobility problem, or because the nature of the route means it would be unsafe for them to do so. There are extended rights to free travel for pupils from low income families. In the 2021/22 financial year (the most recent year for which data is currently available), Local Authorities spent £1.4 billion on home to school travel for pupils of compulsory school age.
The majority of central Government funding for home to school travel is made available to Local Authorities through the Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). DLUHC will bring forward proposals for the Local Government Finance Settlement 2024/25 in the usual way later in the year. When finalising budgets, local Government spending will be carefully considered to ensure councils can continue to deliver vital services. This will include considering the effect of inflation and other wider economic circumstances. The local Government finance policy statement, published last December, sets out the measures expected to be maintained into 2024/25.
The Department additionally provides grant funding to Local Authorities as a contribution towards the cost of ‘extended rights’ travel, this is just under £45.8 million in the 2023/24 financial year.