New funding to help rural post-16 students get to school or college has been proposed by Lib Dem MP Tim Farron in Parliament.
The Rural Sparsity Post-16 Travel Premium was put forward by Mr Farron, who is bidding to become his party’s leader, in the House of Commons on Tuesday, June 2.
His Early Day Motion states: “That this House recognises the benefits of keeping pupils in education or training up until the age of 18; notes the increased costs for pupils travelling vast distances to their nearest suitable centre of learning or training in sparse rural areas, compounded by the lack of existing transport infrastructure.
“It further notes with concern that the increased cost of transport not covered by local-authority schemes impacts disproportionately on students from lower-income backgrounds, often amounting to hundreds of pounds a year per pupil.
“It therefore calls on the Government to consider implementing a Rural Sparsity Post-16 Travel Premium to enable these uniquely-disadvantaged pupils from rural areas to continue their education without fear of being unable to afford to travel there.”
Northumberland Lib Dem Julie Pörksen, who has been campaigning on this issue since Northumberland County Council’s Labour administration first proposed charges for post-16 transport, said: “I am pleased Tim Farron has raised this vital issue in Parliament, it is essential we secure a better deal for young people’s transport in rural areas from Northumberland and Cumbria to Dorset.
“I hope MPs from all parties will sign up to Tim’s initiative as free access to 16-18 education should be a basic human right for everyone.”