The impact on local authorities (LAs) of satisfying PSVAR on home to school has been exposed by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
In a consultation on how it might continue to accommodate paying users, NYCC says that if specified PSVAR on all home to school contracts, the cost would be £2.7m per year above the £24m it already spends.
While NYCC plans to take advantage of exemptions and reintroduce charging of non-entitled and post-16 pupils on non-compliant vehicles where it legally can, it acknowledges that is not a long-term solution.
NYCC proposes to phase out the sale of most spare seats to non-entitled or post-16 pupils in the medium term. It will continue to allow use of non-PSVAR vehicles unless it represents value for money to do otherwise, or if the law requires. Entitled pupils with mobility issues will always be accommodated.
NYCC adds that until 2019, it believed that PSVAR did not apply to home to school transport. Because of a legal challenge, in September 2019 it stopped charging for the use of some spare seats by non-entitled pupils, resulting in a £340,000 forfeit in annual income.