Around 550,000 young people currently receive such transport each year, of which around 145,000 are pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
A new report by the Isos Partnership, commissioned by the LGA and County Councils Network, reveals the cost to councils of providing home-to-school transport increased by £66 million between 2014/15 and 2017/18. It projects it may rise by a further £127 million to reach £1.2 billion a year by 2024.
The LGA has also found that children and young people with SEND now account for 69 per cent of all home-to-school transport expenditure.
Councils have reduced spend by 12 per cent and cut discretionary transport spending by 27 per cent to meet the rising costs of providing transport for children. Despite these efforts, many continue to have to tighten eligibility even further or strip back discretionary support altogether.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils are working as hard as they can to ensure suitable travel arrangements are in place for children who could not reasonably be expected to walk or would otherwise find it difficult to attend school because of distance, mobility, SEND or the routes they have to take.”
Cllr Keith Glazier, Children and Young People Spokesman for the County Councils Network, said: “These services are a lifeline for those pupils. With the scope for further savings narrowing, this has meant that county authorities have significantly scaled back what they provide for other young people.”