Young people in Westmorland and Furness facing financial barriers to traveling for education, learning and training are being urged to apply for a new grant scheme which goes live today (August 24).
With funding of £500,000 earmarked, the 16 to 19 Education Travel Bursary Fund will support young people in Westmorland and Furness who are experiencing difficulty in paying for transport for educational purposes – whether that be bus, train, taxis, fuel costs for private transport or students who travel by bicycle.
The scheme is one of 14 projects representing £5m of priority investments for Westmorland and Furness agreed by the council's Cabinet. The projects reflect the new council’s key priorities for the area, including funding for local areas, biodiversity and nature, sustainable transport, social care, children, culture and education.
Councillor Neil Hughes, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environmental Services, said: "I am delighted that we as Westmorland and Furness Council are able to introduce this scheme. I believe it will be invaluable in helping young people reach out and achieve their ambitions by getting them to college or training from areas which are often without good transport links, particularly in our rural communities. We as a council have a duty to make sure our young people, just as anywhere else, can get to these important venues.
"I think this scheme is a hallmark of how we want to be as an inclusive council, giving everybody the opportunities they deserve and I am really looking forward to seeing the results."
The fund will reduce inequalities, support access to opportunity for younger people who are less likely to have access to a car, or who live in rural areas and have to travel significant distances to access education, develop and retain higher level skills and help to address the skills gaps by reducing the barriers to skills and employment, as well as promoting low carbon and active travel solutions help to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.
Councillor Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said: "Students today will be finding out their GCSE results and making decisions on their future education, learning and training based on those results. This scheme will remove a major barrier for many and ensure they can make decisions based on what is best for them without the burden of worrying about the affordability of travel."
The bursary will work on a sliding scale, dependent on how far away the student lives from their place of education. Students who travel by bicycle will be eligible to claim a one-off grant, irrespective of how far they travel.
Eden District Council ran a pilot travel bursary scheme last year, with two projects which will continue to receive funding this year:
- Alston Moor Federation will continue to provide affordable, subsidised bus transport for students to attend sixth form at New College, Durham in 2023-24. This is done via a transport service from Alston, collecting young people from Nenthead and along Weardale each day.
- Myerscough College will receive support for a non-means tested subsidy for students accessing the land-based provision delivered by the college at Ullswater Community College in Penrith.
Other support is available from Westmorland and Furness Council.
If you come from a low income family and you are studying a full time course, you may be eligible for free Post 16 (low income) transport.
This is available to students in full time education, who live over three miles from their school or college and whose parent or carer is on one of a range of benefits.