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Parents hit in pocket as travel passes rise by £50

Single mum Elaine Barker from Deal is one of thousands of parents who will have to fork out an extra £50 for bus travel to school for her child.

Kent County Council has approved a proposal to increase the price of the Young Persons’ Travel Pass, which replaced the Freedom Pass, from £200 to £250.

Miss Barker, of Freemens Way, who works as both a catering assistant and creche assistant at Tides Leisure Centre, earning the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour, said: “It isn’t ideal and I’m not very happy about it, but there isn’t really anything we can do. I think they’ll just put it up year after year.”

Deal mum Elaine Barker and son Alfie
Deal mum Elaine Barker and son Alfie

She said: “My money hasn’t gone up so I’ll be worse off. I suppose a lot of people will be hit by it.”

Alfie, 14, her only child, attends Dover Grammar School for Boys. She said: “I just think it’s unfair for the children who don’t go to Castle Community College and have to travel to the grammar schools.”

The authority has described the discretionary scheme as the most generous of its kind outside London.

Bosses say the decision to raise the price was tough, but necessary as the authority is hit with significant cuts in government funding – meaning it has to save £209 million over the next three years.

The pass is available to 11 to 16 year olds, who can use it to travel on Kent’s bus network between 6am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.

KCC’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Matthew Balfour, said: “We are choosing to continue supporting families in the county and are committed to providing 11 to 16 year-old pupils with the opportunity of taking the bus to school, saving parents hundreds of pounds a year.

“Outside London this is the most generous scheme in the country – and many councils offer no help at all.

“There are around 25,000 pupils using the Young Persons’ Travel Pass and we understand its importance to parents.

“As a result, we have taken great care to maintain the scheme in its current form, but in the face of government cuts, it is as much as we can afford.”

The council reimburses bus operators for travel made by pass holders.

The average cost per pass to Kent’s council taxpayers is £588, of which £250 will come from the cost of the pass.

It will be frozen at £100 for some families on low incomes, and free for those in care, care leavers and young carers. The cost of the travel card for over 16s will remain at £400 per year.

Families can apply for a new Young Persons’ Travel Pass for the next academic year from Monday, June 15.

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