West Sussex County Council has hinted that it’s more or less at the mercy of taxi firms when it comes to the cost of ferrying disabled children to and from school.
A report to the performance & finance committee said the cost, mainly for solo taxis, had risen by almost £300,000.
When asked what could be done to keep the expense in check, Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Because a number of organisations have gone out of business and we’re legally obliged to provide this service, it’s a seller’s market and the taxi firms have more or less got us by…”
Mr Hunt then trailed off, to chuckles from some of his colleagues.
The taxis are used to take children with often complex physical and learning difficulties and their carers to and from schools all over the county, and is a legal requirement of the council.
Mr Hunt explained that cost issue was a country-wide problem and a review of the children and their individual needs was being carried out.
Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) asked if the council could look at using its own minibuses as a way of saving money.
Mr Hunt responded: “I’m sure that will be looked at. But quite a lot of these children have to have an individual vehicle and a carer.
“It’s all expensive – whichever way you do it is an expense.
“I’ve been asking about this month in month out because this spending is creeping up and I’m not happy about it, but we are looking at it.”