Cash-strapped council to cut travel help for faith school pupils

HELP with travel costs for children attending faith schools in and around Bradford is set to be scaled back despite the move being branded a Catholic ‘tax’ by critics.

Parents will no longer qualify for financial help with transport costs if they choose to send their child to a faith school when there is another school closer to home.

Similarly, parents who opt for a school further away because they do not want their child to attend a faith school which is nearer will also no longer receive help.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The change was first proposed earlier this year when it was criticised by Caroline Hyde, chairwoman of The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust, which runs six schools, who said the policy amounted to a “tax” on Catholic families.

The move was reviewed following the criticism but next week senior councillors are expected to press ahead with the original proposal.

Coun Ralph Berry, executive member for children and young people’s services on Bradford Council, said the Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust had been alone in its objections.

“I regret having to do it because we are facing unprecedented challenges.

“Like every other local authority, with regret, we have to cut our cloth accordingly,” he said.

The changes are being made as the council looks to save £38m this year in the face of Government funding cuts.

Bradford Council spent around £11 million on school transport last year including giving “discretionary” help to 1,000 children.

The council has pointed out that in most other circumstances parents who choose a school that is not the nearest to home do not qualify for help.