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Monday, 16 December 2013 00:00

Changes to Kent Freedom Pass including Post 16 Transport

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been superseded, following pressure from parents leading to a further change of mind by KCC. You will find the new article here

Present Situation

Currently KCC operates a Freedom Pass for young people 11-16 costing £100, which offers free bus transport throughout the county any number of times, at all times of day. Introduced in 2007, this is unique outside London and has been greatly valued by young people. In Medway, travel support for young people is limited to half the adult fare.

It is an addition to the provision for free school transport for children up to Year 11 to their nearest appropriate school for transport purposes if they live more than three miles away (for over 8 year olds); or two miles away (for under 8 year olds). The “for transport purposes” term means that free transport to grammar schools will only be offered if it is the nearest mainstream school of any type. For details go to free transport. (In passing what if free school transport is only available to the nearest Free School, perhaps one with a strange religious philosophy?).   

However, the Council is under extreme pressure to save money, and so has now agreed to change in principle to a much reduced scheme for the Freedom Pass from September 2014  – however one that is still more generous than in many parts of the country. Further, following the third successful “e-petition” to the County Council, a version of the scheme is proposed for over sixteen year olds, who currently only receive a  travel pass costing £520 that provides a small overall subsidy for those travelling on a regular basis

Proposal.......

 

At the relevant Committee meeting it was agreed to ask the Cabinet to replace the current scheme with one that uses a stored value smartcard providing £350 worth of travel for 11-16 year olds and £250 for 16-19 year olds, with both at a cost of £100.

As now, a charge will not be made for Young Carers and Looked After Children. Passes will be granted only to those in education or training, including apprentices.

Clearly, this comes nowhere near the spread of the current Freedom Pass, and will not even cover the cost of getting to school and back for many children, who don't attend the nearest school to them, including many grammar school children. However, it is still a support in an area of life where KCC is not required to provide it and, although there have been some hysterical responses to the withdrawal of the unlimited Travel Pass, given the financial pressures on the KCC it remains pleasing that they have been able to keep some elements of the original concept.

Of course, for children who are awarded free school transport, it remains a bonus towards the cost of travel for other reasons and at other times. 

Last modified on Friday, 05 December 2014 23:14

6 comments

  • Comment Link Thursday, 13 March 2014 16:37 posted by Lindsey

    I think this is unfair so because we choose to send our children to better schools which mean they need to catch the bus we are being penalised. I think the kent freedom pass should cover the whole year of school to and from outside of school hours then yes as parents we should pay for our children to get there.

  • Comment Link Monday, 10 February 2014 09:06 posted by Alison

    How short sighted the council have been re: Kent Freedom Pass. If you limit a child's travel, they won't go into town to meet friends, go to the cinema, have something to eat, go shopping, they won't be able to attend the leisure centre to go swimming or go to football etc. Most parents are busy trying to juggle home life and as a working mum - someone who pays a huge amount every year to the Government, the council, various utility companies etc, I can barely afford petrol for work never mind to take my children to see their friends. We will end up with kids stuck on playstations without any social life because, let's face it - it's cheaper! It will be interesting to see how many kids attend school when the passes run out - don't worry, the parents will get fined so once again, more money for school/councils etc!!! No, KCC is not obliged to offer any support at all to transport children to school but, they are obliged to spend our money responsibly, it would be interesting to see exactly where and how our money is spent...........

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 January 2014 09:29 posted by tracy middleton

    We live in a rural village and 7.1 miles from my daughters school. It is a major road largely without pavements so it is not possible for her to walk. The new capped freedom pass will run out before Christmas (5.60 return) & my son will also be starting in Sept which means we will be looking at finding an extra £56 a week for the rest of the school year (£1400) alternatively I will have to drive them adding to the pollution and congestion already clogging up the Kent roads or my husband could give up working and the State can fund us !!!! Another solution surely could have been found I would happily pay £150-200 for each of their passes. PETER: Perhaps I have been too harsh in my comments on this issue. Whilst KCC runs a scheme which is not required by the rules, it is a large rural county and there are clearly hardship problems out there. Is there a compromise solution, although any that KCC comes up with will inevitably cause further economies to be made in another budget affecting people's lives. There is no doubt, according to the evidence that government is treating Kent harshly compared with other counties. You are amongst the victims in this discrimination.

  • Comment Link Friday, 24 January 2014 09:24 posted by Peter

    This seems completely unfair, as to get to grammar schools if often > £6- a day. The limit should be on extra (non-school journeys and not the essential school ones).
    ie: School journey costs (which could easily be £1000-) PLUS £350- a year for social use (ie: 2 short or 1 longer journey a week)

  • Comment Link Sunday, 19 January 2014 13:51 posted by Marianne

    I wish to complain about the increase in cost to parents of the freedom pass and suggest that the name freedom pass is no longer valid. There are 195 school days in the year. The bus to school costs £3.30 return. This is £643.5 meaning that I shall have to pay £100 + £293.5= £393.5. My son currently uses the pass to go to swimming and skating and other activities so the cost will be far in excess if I continue to allow him the freedom to use it. It will not be cost effective to have one at all for use outside of school as it would be better to buy weekly passes on an ad hoc basis. I can see many parents having to stop their children using the pass and going by car. Going to get very busy on the roads!

  • Comment Link Monday, 30 December 2013 09:51 posted by Kate Abbott

    Would love to know how they work out the £350 to cover costs. As all travel before 9am is classed as Adult fare, this would not even cover someone going to their nearest school every day unless it is so close they could walk it. My bill for one child will now be £750 a year as her cost is £5 per day to get a return ticket after taking the freedom pass into into consideration. Will we be able to purchase more than one a year? PETER: This is not a subsidy to cover costs; it is a Council initiative to support all our young people and encourage them to use public transport rather than rely on parental cars. Yes, it was designed in part to help those who don't get free school transport, but it remains an extra, and with the Council under pressure to make further cost savings could still be withdrawn completely next year - I would not be at all surprised. Apart from the support given to children in London (I believe), it remains a distinctive Kent policy to support our young people, whereas many if not most other Local Authorities offer nothing similar. In summary KCC is not obliged to offer any support at all to transport children to a school that is not their nearest and this is more than most.

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