News: Carmarthenshire School Transport Costs Exceed £11 Million
The bill for transporting children to and from school in Carmarthenshire is set to exceed £11 million in this financial year, over £200,000 more than expected.
The county council’s Executive Board will be told on Monday (November 18th) that the cost is forecast to be £11.195 million, £214,000 above the budgeted amount.
For comparison, this is equivalent to 22.6%, between a fifth and a quarter, of the entire £49.501 million delegated budget for the county’s secondary schools, which is itself £1.4 million above the budgeted amount of £48.101 million.
Primary schools’ delegated costs are expected to come to £57.452 million in 2019-20, and special schools’ to £4.264 million. The total including secondary schools is £111.217 million — so school transport at £11.195 million adds another 10% to this substantial sum.
The county council explains the transport overspend as “mainly due to an increase in the number of Additional Learning Needs pupils transported to Special Schools. In addition a number of recent appeals have been successful, as well as increased contractor costs, diminishing market supply and increased minimum wage.”
The explanation suggests that minimum-wage payments are probably common in the business of school transport, and that although wages may be low, fewer businesses are competing for contracts.
Years of closures of local schools have forced more children to depend on commercial carriers to get them to school, at significant and rising financial cost to the local authority as well as at time cost to the pupils.