The LGIU’s ‘State of Local Government Finance’ report indicates that children’s services, including home to school transport, is the greatest immediate financial pressure for 36% of top-tier authorities.  Research by the County Council Network found that, nationally, spend on pre-16 SEND home to school transport has risen by 29% in the last two years.

Our client’s Passenger Transport Policy had not been reviewed for several years.  The context and costs to deliver this service had changed considerably in this time; the policy was under review as it was no longer suitable for the current operating pressures and was due to go out for public consultation.

Our approach

C.Co undertook an independent financial analysis of the council’s proposed policy options for Home to School Transport that were intended for public consultation.  The aim was to identify and assess the current and future costs in order to inform future budget and service delivery options.

To do this, C.Co worked collaboratively with a range of services including Transport, Finance, and Transformation, mainly at the council in question but also with a neighbouring authority, as this was a shared service across both organisations. C.Co assessed information and data from various sources, both internal and external for comparison, and considered the strategies for change underway and their impact on the level and cost of provision.

The policy options under review were:

  • Independent Travel Training
  • Personal Travel Budgets
  • Application process changes
  • Review of solo taxi journeys
  • Muster collection points
  • Out of borough transport

Out of scope was vehicle route optimisation, as this had been conducted separately, and engagement with service users and their families/guardians as this will be the focus of the public consultation.

The work was conducted in line with C.Co’s four stage approach: Discovery, Analysis, Options Modelling, Validation and Reporting.

The outcome

So far, C.Co has completed the required actions to the satisfaction of the client, the policy proposals have cleared internal governance processes, and the public consultation has commenced.

The work enabled an independent examination of the current costs of service provision and of the future impact, taking into account the individual and cumulative results of the proposed changes.

This project brought to light key cost pressures, reflected against operating processes and service demands, as well as budget projections, and set out which areas would have the greatest and least financial impact, including consideration of the costs required.

It evidenced that significant savings were possible for the Council, based on the proposed policy changes, and suggested timescales to make the change.

The analysis also articulated where key challenges/ constraints existed, such as contractual arrangements, quantified where savings may be greater or lesser than the level anticipated, commented upon policies and data from other councils, highlighted non-financial considerations such as staff time, reported on the impact of potential targeted activity, and provided a cost breakdown for each area to aid post-consultation steps.