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Students: Travel

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL785, tabled on 7 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Social Mobility Commission's report The road not taken: the drivers of course selection, published on 30 March, what steps they intend to take to help disadvantaged young people with travel costs so they are not priced out of travelling to certain courses or apprenticeships which should otherwise be available to them.

Answered on

16 June 2021

The statutory responsibility for transport to education and training for those aged 16 to 19 rests with local authorities. This enables them to make decisions that best match local needs and circumstances. Local authorities must publish a policy statement each year setting out the support available. They are expected to make reasonable decisions based on the needs of their population, the local transport infrastructure and the resources they have available. This does not, however, have to include free or subsidised transport.

The options available to young people to participate, and meet Raising the Participation Age legislation, mean that young people travel to diverse and widespread locations. It would not be financially feasible for local authorities to fund every young person’s post-16 transport, particularly where the young people are receiving pay through, for example, an apprenticeship. Parents and students have a right to appeal if they are unhappy with the arrangements the local authority have put in place.

We do recognise that the cost of transport can be an issue for some young people, and the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is allocated directly to 16-19 providers to support young people who may need additional support with costs such as transport.

Beginning in the 2020/21 academic year, we have recently changed the way we allocate funding for discretionary bursaries to providers of 16-19 education, following a consultation. As a result, institutions whose students will tend to face higher travel costs, who travel further or live in rural areas, will receive more funding to provide support to students who need it. This ensures a better match between bursary allocations and the needs of students.

In August 2019, the 16 and 17-year-old railcard was made available nationally offering half price rail fares for those in further education and apprenticeships.

We also support local authorities and their duty by facilitating the regular sharing of good practice and conducting annual compliance checks on their policy statements.