PARENTS of special needs and disabled (SEND) children are considering legal action to fight proposed cuts to school transport funding.

North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) executive unanimously recommended the meeting of the full authority on May 16 approves asking parents of SEND pupils to pay £490 annually for home to school transport and £245 for those on low incomes.

The meeting at County Hall, in Northallerton, heard numerous concerns about the proposals, which also include increasing the mileage allowance for parents to drive children to school. Campaigners told the meeting the proposed charges equated to one and a half months’ mobility allowance for young people, who were already using the funding for medical appointments, family visits and short breaks.

The meeting heard the move was designed to bring charges for SEND pupils into line with those for mainstream pupils and in doing so save the council about £57,000 a year by 2021.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, children’s services executive member, said: “Some people say these savings are insignificant. But after several years of austerity it’s very hard to make savings. We have already picked the low-hanging fruit and are now on the extended step ladders and it’s an uncomfortable place to be.

“We want to protect the provision, correct the overspend and give flexibility to parents.”

Due to government legislation, since March 2015, there has been a 22 per cent increase in the number of SEND children and young people being transported in the county while it costs an average of £8,000 a year for each pupil.

The council said if no action was taken the SEND transport service, which has a budget of £5m, would soar from £8m to £30m by 2025.

Following the decision members of the campaign group Save SEND services North Yorks said they were calling for the council to re-consult so and were raising funds for legal advice.

Sioban Ostoja-Starzewska, from Weaverthorpe, whose 13-year-old son George attends Welburn Hall School, said: “It seems that NYCC has failed to consult with the the vast majority of families and young people who will be directly affected by these devastating cuts."

“They have failed to effectively lobby Central Government with respect to this issue. Legislation that this Government has introduced, including educational, health and care plans (EHCP) and mandatory educational/training up until 18 years, has caused this issue with no apparent thought having been given to the funding consequences at the local level.

“The young people with SEND and their families are facing great hardship. Research shows that families of disabled children already face financial difficulties which affect their day-to-day living, this is one more way that the most vulnerable people in our society are being hit.”