OPPOSITION claims that Northwich families with disabled teenagers will be financially penalised by potential funding cuts are a ‘fundamental misrepresentation’, according to the council leader.
Labour councillors claim families’ concerns were prompted by a wider consultation on the funding for school transport, which includes proposals to cut money for disabled people aged 16 to 19 in sixth form or college.
However, Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones said issues surrounding funding are the exact reason it has gone to consultation.
“For them to say that is a fundamental misrepresentation,” he said. “A number of people with special needs get grants from the DWP and are also provided with vehicles to transport them to their college or school.
“So in some cases people are getting two lots of funding and that’s why it is up for consultation and is also why it doesn’t take effect until 2016/17.”
Councillor David Armstrong, Labour’s spokesperson for Children and Young People, said they recognise the need for cuts but that this group of teenagers need continued support.
“Sadly, this would appear to be the price families are being made to pay as a result of draconian cuts made by the coalition government,” he said.
“To charge 16 to 19-year-old young people with special needs, as well as a small group of youngsters with medical conditions, is particularly pernicious. This is surely a cut too far.”
Labour leader councillor Justin Madders added: “Given the squeeze on living standards being felt by families across the country because of this Tory-led Coalition government, we believe it was inappropriate that this Tory council even considered including this particular group of young people.
“Essentially, their families will be financially penalised for having a young person with a disability.
“We are concerned that the proposal to end the support for transport for these young people aged between 16 and 19 with a disability may make the future of some of our recently expanded sixth forms uncertain. This proposal should be abandoned.”
Councillor Mark Stocks, executive member for children and families, said: “I would like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation on the Children and Young People’s Transport Review.
“We have received a robust response – more than 700 comments – providing a good range of views to inform our decision-making.
“Several issues have emerged in a number of areas and these will now be looked at by our officers, and the proposals will be reviewed in the light of the responses.
“All comments will be summarised and included in a report to the Council’s Executive on March 13 when Members will take a decision on the proposals.”