Travel cost relief for our students

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STUDENTS who have lost their Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will get a helping hand with transport costs.

Calderdale Council is to provide travel cards from October 2011 to June 2012 to all qualifying students aged between 16 and 18.

The authority will also continue to fund minibus services in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden and a community transport service in Brighouse/Rastrick.

The money – £84,000 for travel cards, an estimated maximum of £75,000 in 2011/12 for the Hebden Bridge/Todmorden minibuses, and an estimated maximum of £60,000 in 2011/12 for Brighouse/Rastrick has come from savings from the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport (WYITA) levy for 2011/12.

The levy is money which all councils pay to the WYITA.

The Authority has made savings and effectively paid back £550,000 to the council, some of that money has been allocated already but the remainder will now be used to fund the transport schemes.

Children and Young People spokeswoman, Coun Olwen Jennings, said funding the travel cards for the next 12 months is important to many students who will be struggling after losing their EMA.

She said: “When EMA stops or is reduced at the end of the summer term, it will mean many students, particularly those in their second year of two-year courses and who budgeted on the basis that they would continue to receive EMA in 2011/12, will face financial hardship. This decision will help with their costs and will hopefully help them continue in secondary education.”

Economy and Environment spokesman Coun Barry Collins said maintaining rural buses would help communities.

“Cuts in public sector funding mean that Metro is having to make savings in its own budget over the next three years,” he said.

“So, the Council needs to step in and offer support where it can.”