Council's home to school transport policies lead to a rise in complaints to the local government ombudsman

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Council's home to school transport policies lead to a rise in complaints to the local government ombudsman

View profile for Beverley Watkins
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The Local Government Ombudsman has published a focus report concerning home to school transport issues.  This follows a marked increase in complaints that the Local Government Ombudsman have seen about these issues over the past two years. 

The report states that in 2015/16, the Local Government Ombudsman received 261 complaints and enquiries about school transport, compared with 160 in the previous year.  The report continues to state that in the first 6 months of this year, 57% of complaints were upheld which is above the Local Government Ombudsman average uphold rate for all complaints.  Of note is that there is an increase in complaints that fall into three broad areas (a) confusing transport policies and/or inadequate information about when free transport will be provided (b) not applying the transport guidance properly and (c) in cases involving children with special educational needs.

If you have been refused transport or you consider that the type of transport that has been offered is inappropriate, then your Local Authority should have an appeals process, which they should notify you about, providing transparent and clear information about the transport appeals process and if unsuccessful at appeal, the next steps that can be taken, including a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

We have advised on such cases for over 15 years and we would agree with the Local Government Ombudsman’s most recent focus report that the three main areas continue to be the emerging issues that are highlighted by parents, particularly children with special educational needs or a disability, where parents are given inaccurate and confusing information and are not made aware of the relevant law and regulations relating to home to school transport or indeed their specific rights.

Each Local Authority should have a transport appeals process that is governed by the 2014 Home to School Travel and Transport Statutory Guidance and you should be able to access information about the transport appeals process on your Local Authority’s website.

If you have any questions about home to school transport or believe your child may be entitled to free home to school transport and have not been informed about the appeals process, then please do get in contact with us.