BBC News

Mum suffered 'hardship' in school bus payment row

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionBuckinghamshire Council has agreed to reimburse the mother for school journeys dating back two years
A mother fought for two years to secure free school transport for her child despite being eligible all along, an investigation has found.
The woman had to make four daily journeys to get her child, who has special educational needs, to school.
But Buckinghamshire County Council only agreed to pay for two legs of the trip, causing her "hardship and anxiety".
It has apologised and following an inquiry by the Local Government Ombudsman, will reimburse the mother.
She first asked the council in October 2018 to pay mileage to take her son, who has "significant" sensory needs and high levels of anxiety, to school, as it had no suitable transport that met their needs.
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe woman was left out of pocket, making four journeys with her child every day
As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she heard nothing until January 2019, and at one point the authority requested information from the wrong school, the LGO said.
Her request was refused but an appeal was lodged in February 2019 and a hearing took place a month later.
The county council did not submit a decision within 14 days of the hearing, prompting the woman to complain to the LGO.
But by the end of May 2019, the council said it could only pay for two legs of the journey.

'Family hardship'

A report from the watchdog said the mother "had no choice" but to take her children to school herself since September 2018, and "could have used this time as respite from her caring responsibilities".
The authority, now known as Buckinghamshire Council, has agreed to pay for all four legs of the journey and reimburse costs dating back two years after the LGO found its complaints process was "flawed".
It will also pay £50 for each week she took her child to school from September 2018 given the "time, trouble and anxiety" it caused, the ombudsman added.
The mother's second child, who also has special educational needs, will now be assessed to consider whether they are also eligible for alternative transport.
In a statement, the council said it accepted the LGO's findings "that there has been a failure in the application of our processes, resulting in hardship for the family.
"We have apologised to the family and made full payment in accordance with the Ombudsman's recommendation."
"We are working to finalise the other recommendations and will ensure these are completed within the required timescales."

Related Topics

  • Family
  • Buckinghamshire County Council
  • Transport

More on this story

  • Coronavirus: School transport Covid-19 testing call