Coach and bus trade body, CPT, has warned that home-to-school services across England could be under threat once schools reopen unless the Government takes immediate action.
In a letter to the schools minister, CPT has highlighted that, unless home-to-school payments continue during lockdown, many family-run operators will struggle to keep their businesses running.
Home to school transport only provides, at best, 20% of an operator’s revenue, with the rest coming from trips and tours. As a result of a collapse in demand due to the pandemic, many operators have reported a fall in income of over 90% for 2020.
CPT has called on Schools Minister Nick Gibb, as the Government did during the March 2020 lockdown, to urge local authorities to continue to make payments as if schools were open. If these payments are not made the ability of the sector to provide 600,000 children with transport when schools reopen will be under significant strain.
CPT’s Head of Policy Alison Edwards said: “It is vital that operators continue to be paid during this latest lockdown so we can ensure that services can resume quickly when schools reopen. Without this, we risk difficulties in getting children to school in the future and mass congestion at the school gates, which poses both safety and environmental challenges.
“Experience from the previous lockdown shows that without guidance from central government many local authorities will seek to reduce pressure on their budgets by not making home to school transport payments.”
With some operators also providing home to school services that are contracted privately CPT has also called on the minister to urge schools with such contracts to continue to make payments to operators directly.
Alison Edwards concludes: “Schools that fail to make payments will face the same challenges of reduced capacity when they reopen as those whose home to school services are arranged via a local authority. It is important that all home to school contracts are paid in full for the duration of lockdown.”